CBSE to conduct dope tests in school sports meet


NAGPUR: Success, be it in academics or sports, never comes easy and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to impart this lesson early in life to its students. Even Olympians have fallen from grace after being found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs and board wants to raise the red flag early. CBSE has decided to conduct a dope test for participants of its inter-school sports event scheduled to start in September. A circular issued by the board mentions that the testing will be done in "association with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA)". 

The circular did not give any reason for the step and officials remained unavailable for comments being busy in an important CBSE event at New Delhi. 


The decision could be result of 11 athletes testing positive in the National School Games in January. The event's organizer, School Games Federation of India (SGFI), believed lack of knowledge about banned substances among schoolchildren was a major concern. "Children are not aware about the different banned substances. They don't know which medicines they can take or what are the allowed vitamins or protein supplements. We tried to provide them with the material provided by NADA but much more needs to be done," a SGFI official told TOI then. 

At SGFI games no dope testing is undertaken. Subhash Gangreddiwar, district sports officer (Nagpur), said, "We only conduct a medical test for age verification and it is done by a surgeon." Reacting to the doping controversy then, a senior NADA official had warned, "School-doping has potential to damage our future irreversibly. The most worrying aspect is that the schoolchildren are indulging in these practices without being aware about the consequences." 

To be safe, CBSE will soon be releasing a list of banned substances for its Inter-School Games and Sports Competitions (ISGSC). 

However, the board's decision to test for dope has not found favour with city schools. Anmol Badjatia, principal of Jain International School, said, "This decision seems over-the-top. I have never heard of anyone taking performance enhancing drugs at CBSE sports meet and there is no reason for it to happen in the future. These are kids we are talking about, not professional athletes." 

Deaven Dasture, director of Royal Gondwana Public School, said, "We need to trust our students and by announcing a dope test we are sending a wrong message." 

The board's circular does not give details on whether the test will be for all athletes or done on a random basis. Also the methodology to be used by NADA is not mentioned but a separate notice to host schools asks them to keep doctors on site for emergency and age-verification purpose. 

CASH AWARDS 

The board has also raised the profile its sports meet by introducing high value cash prizes for the schools. The school coming first in the competition will be awarded Rs 5 lakh while the second placed will get Rs 3 lakh. The third will get Rs 1 lakh. The changes seem to have been made against the background of the central government giving a special status to CBSE. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has recognized CBSE as the 'National Sports Promotional Organization' for promotion of school games. 

The cash awards will add more incentive to the meet that strives to maintain international standards. Jain International School is the only venue for the event in entire Vidarbha and will host tennis competition for west zone. Principal Badjatia said, "about 500 tennis players will compete for zonal glory at our seven-layered synthetic tennis courts from October 26-31. We have made lodging arrangements for all of them at the school campus itself." 

"Only when stakes are high will there be an incentive for students and schools to put their best foot forward. We have to tap talent at this level to ensure we can improve our performance at Olympics," said Royal Gondwana's Dasture. 

Anatomy of a dope-test 

There are several testing methods available - urine, hair, oral fluids and sweat. These methods vary in cost, reliability, drugs detected and detection period. Event organizers can determine their needs and choose the method that best suits their requirements. 

Under established doping control protocols, a participant will be asked to provide urine sample which will be divided into two as A and B. If sample A has revealed presence of any prohibited substance then to protect the rights of a participant the B sample would be analyzed to confirm that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred. 

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