NADA should get its priority right as far as RTP and test distribution plan go

It has been quite a year for Hima Das who caught everyone’s fancy from the time she surfaced as a quartermiler in the Federation Cup in Patiala.  After having been under the spotlight on the track and in the arc-lights, posing for magazine covers, the Assam teenager seems to have been identified by National Anti-Doping Authority (NADA) to be a part of its Registered Testing Pool (RTP).

Of course, there is no certainty that NADA will test all athletes on the RTP frequently.

After all, a recent report, based on an RTI application, revealed that NADA tested more hockey players than other athletes in the year’s first half. To say that hockey is a very high-risk sport – because of the possibility of winning medals and the popularity of the game – to justify its decision to choose more hockey players for out of competition testing is to ignore its own database.

A cursory scanning of the ADDP decisions on 840-plus cases will reveal that nearly half of these come from the two disciplines of athletics and weightlifting. There have been just six hockey players who have been sanctioned by ADDPs since its inception in 2009. Indeed, it is a good example of how NADA has been missing the woods for the trees.

It must soon correct its test distribution plan to be seen as leading the fight against doping. It must take into account factors like a sport’s practitioners’ instances of doping and focus on the elite levels a bit more than it has. Of course, it cannot ignore doping at the grass-root level and must have a fair percentage of tests for athletes under the age of 18.

Yet, it conducted a whopping 35 per cent of the 2062 tests from January to July at the Khelo India School Games. In a year in which Indians did well in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, it would not have been wrong to expect that the bulk of the testing would be of the elite athletes heading to these events.

Despite talk of Hima Das being placed on the RTP, NADA is yet to publish an updated list. For all you know, it is still in the process of finalising the list. It will do well to compile the list after consultations with experts from outside NADA.  Of course, it can form an independent panel of erstwhile national coaches and retired athletes to draw up its RTP.

With a bunch of elite athletes set to train overseas in the run-up to the World Championship next year and the Olympic Games in 2020, NADA’s challenges will only grow. It must take upon itself the task of testing the elite athletes more frequently and enhance the confidence of the sport’s supporters that the track and field stars are votaries of clean sport.

It does not have domain experts in house who can identify the athletes to be listed on RTP. One of the easiest other things for it to do would be to use the list of athletes funded by the Sports Authority of India’s TOP Scheme as a benchmark. And this list will be a good pointer to who SAI and the National Sports Federations see as having the potential to make a mark in Tokyo2020.

The moot question is: Will NADA get its RTP and test distribution plan right in the time ahead?

The article as it appeared in Mail Today, November 19, 2018
About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.