Virender Poonia, Dronacharya awardee in athletics and former national coach, believes that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) should tweak its national policy to deter dope cheats in the future.
According to Poonia, an athlete's record-breaking performance in a domestic competition should be declared nullified if he/she fails a dope test within a span of two years of that performance.
“To discourage dope cheats, there should be stringent rules to set an example for others. That could be one way to check the menace of doping at domestic level.”
The anti-doping policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) give the authorities legal powers to cancel the results of dope cheats from the date of adverse urine or blood sample collection.
According to Poonia, the AFI should also add a clause in its national policy about coaches also, to check the menace of doping amongst promising athletes.
“Several budding athletes fail dope tests in their formative years of training. If a coach takes pride in scouting and nurturing talent, there should be a clause to punish coaches whose athlete fails dope test."
Virender Poonia had helped Kamalpreet Kaur
Poonia was an avid fan of the 2020 Tokyo Olympian and national record holder in women’s discus throw Kamalpreet Kaur. However, the Dronacharya awardee was shocked when she failed an out-of-competition dope test earlier this month, conducted by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an arm of World Athletics.
Speaking over the phone from Jaipur, Rajasthan, the veteran coach expressed his surprise at this development.
“I was Kamalpreet’s fan as she was the first Indian women's discus thrower to break 65m barrier... I was disillusioned when I came to know that Kamalpreet had failed a dope test. In the future, I will think twice before supporting any promising athlete.”
Poonia had given financial help to encourage Kamalpreet Kaur when she qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held last year.
The discus thrower from Punjab has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying she hasn’t taken any performance enhancing drugs.
WADA anti-doping rules say the athlete should be responsible for any banned substance in his or her body. If proven guilty, the Punjab international thrower will face a four-year ban for first offense of stanozozol, an anabolic steroid, which is under WADA's banned list.
Kamalpreet Kaur's meteoric rise within a short span of three years raised the storm among the domestic athletics fraternity.
While Kamalpreet’s personal best in 2019 was 60.25m, in 2021 she became the first Indian female athlete to break the 65m barrier in discus throw.
Last year, the Punjab thrower broke Krishna Poonia’s national record of 64.76m set in 2012. Kamalpreet’s personal best and national record was 66.59m in June 2021 in Patiala. She qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and finished sixth.