New Delhi: The sports ministry, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Tuesday indulged in a blamegame over rampant doping after Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogorobonik, who trained six of the eight athletes who tested positive, was sacked.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken held former AFI president Suresh Kalmadi and secretary general Lalit Bhanot responsible for the mess the sport is in. Stand-in IOA president Vijay Kumar Malhotra took exception to the minister's remark and blamed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) which is responsible for the appointment of coaches and doctors. On his part, AFI chief M.L. Dogra refused to accept that training in Ukraine was the sole reason for the doping cases.
The irony of being the 'five wise men'
Maken, at a hurriedly called media conference in the morning, ordered the firing of Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogorobonik and instituted a high-level inquiry into the entire unsavoury episode, and Malhotra blamed the ministry for not acting swiftly when the first doping case surfaced and the IOA complained to the government.
Ogorobonik, who is in Patiala, told the electronic media that he was being framed as he has never prescribed any steroids to the athletes.
"Every athlete has their food supplement plan. I have not given any anabolic steroids. I am a professional. I have prohibited these substances 20 years ago. It is a bad anabolic. I am not stupid to advise these substances to athletes. I am being set up," said the Ukrainian, who has been associated with the Indian athletics for over a decade.
Six of the eight Indian athletes who tested positive for banned substance methandienone are 400m runners. Three of them were part of the women's 4x400m relay team that won the gold at the CWG and Asian Games last year.
Dogra, defending the training programmes of the athletes, said it is not correct to paint Ukraine as some kind of a den of all nefarious activities. The athletes have been going to England, South Africa and Malaysia for training and competitions and it is unfair to jump to any conclusion without investigating the matter thoroughly, he maintained.
"They have not gone only to the Ukraine. They gone to so many places, including London, South Africa, Malaysia and other places for training. It would not be right to point a finger at only the Ukraine," Dogra said.
Maken promised a thorough probe by a panel headed by either a retired Delhi High Court judge or the chairman of the National Anti-Doping Authority's disciplinary panel.
Sangakkara in trouble over his Lord's speech
Maken also ordered Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general Desh Deepak Verma to probe the role of its officials and coaches in the episode that has shamed the country and asked him to submit a report within three days.
"We have agreed to all the points of the inquiry that the sports minister has suggested," said Dogra.
The sports minister later said he has asked a report from the AFI. He also pointed a finger at sacked and jailed CWG officials Kalmadi and Bhanot.
"IOA and particularly AFI was run by Kalmadi and Bhanot. They were running the federation. I have also asked secretaries to see the report of AFI why it was happening. The federations have to share the blame as they are the ones who suggest the names of the coaches to the ministry."
Malhotra said SAI's role should be thoroughly probed.
"All coaches and doctors are employed by SAI. The coaches can't be totally ignorant about all these things. Every SAI centre is involved in this. What were the doctors doing? If the performance of the athletes suddenly improves then the reason behind it should have been found out," he said.