India displaces Russia on top of dubious list with 125 dope positives in 2022

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The worst fears have come true, and India has topped the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Testing Figures Report with 125 of the 3865 samples collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) showing up positive (Adverse Analytical Failure, AAF) for prohibited substances.

Russian National Anti-Doping Organisation, which led the Hall of Shame in 2021, managed its anti-doping programme enough to drop below India this time. It had 85 AAFs out of the 10186 samples it tested in 2022. Russia’s 0.8 per cent AAF compares favourably with NADA’s 3.2 per cent AAFs of the total samples tested.

This should prompt a more serious debate on India’s war against doping. The focus on anti-doping education programmes must increase and stringent punishment handed out to the perpetrators including coaches and others who have encouraged the use of and even administered prohibited substances. A greater level of investigation is called for than is being done at the moment.

India’s AAFs have come through Athletics 47, Wrestling 18, Weightlifting 17, Judo 7, Powerlifting 6, Kabaddi 4, Para Powerlifting 3, Boxing, Shooting Para Sport, Basketball, Para Athletics, Football and Body Building 2 each, Shooting, Hockey, Cycling, Aquatics, Wushu, Gymnastics, Bowling, Volleyball, Taekwondo, Karate and Bridge 1 each.

It is worrisome that wrestling has 18 AAFs from the 285 samples collected – a whopping 6.32 per cent. Five of these came from out of competition tests. In fact, 36 of the 125 positives in samples collected NADA India have come from out of competition tests. More than a third of the 47 AAFs came from the 369 Out of Competition tests.

The highest AAFs in athletics in 10 years could be the result of targeted testing of track and field athletes in and out of competition. As can be envisioned, a large number of these are from Out of Competition tests. These include Dutee Chand, S Dhanalakshmi, MV Jilna, Nirmla Sheoran, discus throwers Kamalpreet Kaur and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (in a sample collected in Almaty).

The list of 10 National Anti-Doping Organisations with the most AAFs in 2022 includes India 125, Russia 85, USA 84, Italy 73, France 72, South Africa 58, Canada 44, Kazakhstan 41, Germany 40 and Saudi Arabia 39.

Obviously, the Testing Figures report does not include any statistics on how many AAFs convert to Anti-Doping Rule Violations. The US Anti-Doping Agency, for instance, has 195 AAFs in 2019 and 136 in 2020. The WADA ADRV Reports for these two years reveal that USADA sanctioned only 35 athletes in 2019 and 36 in 2020.

Report sees return of NDTL to the WADA fold

Besides, the 2022 WADA Testing Figures Report also marks the return of National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) after missing out on 2020 and 2021 when its WADA accreditation was suspended. NDTL tested 4064 samples in 2022 after being reinstated. These included 3680 urine samples, 216 blood samples and 168 Athlete Blood Passport samples.

In terms of numbers, samples tested by NDTL produced the third highest number of AAFs (126) behind Cologne, Germany (183) and Seibersdorf, Austria, (129). But in percentage terms, NDTL’s 3.26 per cent is the highest. The only other lab with more than 2 % AAFs of all samples tested was Bloemfontein, South Africa (2.04 per cent).

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