Indian Tally Less By Two Medals And Plenty Of Sheen

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
The 14th Asian Games, that concluded in Busan last week, will be remembered for South Korean efficiency, excellent performances by the Gulf states and a genuine attempt to unify the two Koreas. But from an Indian point of view, Sunita Ranis dubious act of a positive dope test overshadowed the golden deeds of other players.

To serious followers of the Olympic disciplines in India, Ms Ranis incident was not much of a surprise. Doping has been rampant in India and the media has been writing about it. But the fact that it surfaced in the Asian Games, where Indian athletes gave their best performance, was unfortunate. The president of the Indian Olympic Association of India (IOA), Suresh Kalmadi, was quick to call for Ms Ranis head. The athlete will be punished, he told mediapersons at the airport, when the Indian athletes returned home. But he did not say a word about the coaches who accompanied the Indian contingent to Busan. Arent they also responsible for Ms Ranis act And what more punishment can he now give to Ms Rani She is stripped of her two medals and will also be barred from athletics for two years. The sports ministry and the IOA, however, insist they are still awaiting the official report even as the Games Organising Committee has announced Ms Ranis case in an official briefing in Busan.

What about his own moral responsibility as the president of the Amateur Athletics Federation of India How can the federation suddenly disown the athlete who, till she was caught, was its proud possession The same officials, who were clamouring to be photographed with Ms Rani after her record breaking victory, were later avoiding her.

Ms Rani appeared like a lamb under a butchers knife when Indian media caught up with her after she was declared an offender. She wanted to talk, perhaps dying to reveal the truth, but words couldnt come out of her lips, sealed by the tutoring she got from the team doctor and coaches. Doctor had given me something for a womans problem, she said, while pointing out that she consumed something that the Indian team doctor had given her after her win.

But the simple village girl couldnt explain why it was needed after the event. Generally women athletes take pills before the event to alter their menstrual cycle to be able to compete on a particular day. But the pill that the doctor gave to Ms Rani was said to be actually a masking agent, administered to hide the banned nandrolene that she was given before the event. But the masking agent couldnt hide the traces of nandrolene that were found in her urine sample.

For IOA, perhaps the only way to wriggle out of the situation is to prove that the dope testing methods were faulty and force the International Association of Athletics Federation to let Ms Rani go scotfree.

One has to wait and see what happens to Ms Rani. In the mean time, K M Beenamol can relax and watch replay of her gallant running on highly sophisticated and technology advanced Samsung TV that she will receive for being the winner of the Most Valued Performance (MVP) award from the company. She will receive a complete range of Samsung products from the company for her sterling performance at the Games. The Samsung MVP award was decided by a panel of five sports journalists who were in Busan during the Games. Ms Beenamol will be receiving Samsungs high-tech, digital products like the worlds First DVD VCR Combo Product, 29 Samsung Plano Flat Colour TV set; the most recently launched audio system having CD/VCD /MP3 Playback and several home appliance products.

According to M B Lee, V-P (Marketing), Samsung India, Our theme for sponsorship of the Asian Games was the Power of Asia and Beenamols performance represents what we had in mind for the MVP winnerin terms of a powerful performance and sportsmanship. We at Samsung are happy to award her a complete range of our premium, leading technology products for her home.

While performances like that of Ms Beenamols were overshadowed by the Sunita Rani incident, it also pushed several other shortcomings of the Indian authorities into hiding. The Indian riders had the worst horses, there was no literature on the Indian participants and athletes didnt have the national flag to display after their victory. So much for the oft-repeated Mera Bharat Mahan slogan. What could have been a better way to demonstrate the national spirit than a victory lap with the tricolour by Ms Beenamol or Ms George

And why is it that national broadcaster Doordarshan could make only Rs 5 lakh as revenue, even though it sent its own team of producer, technician, correspondent and a cameraperson Their expenditure on travel and board and lodging, from taxpayers money, was many times more than the revenue earned by Doordarshan. Also, both Doordarshan and All India Radio were glaringly missing when Ms Rani was making her statement to the media, after she failed the second dope test.

Even if the Busan Asian Games lost some of its shine, as far as India is concerned, Indian authorities can still bask in the reflected glory of sportspersons. It was clearly seen at the Prime Ministers residence during the felicitation ceremony after the team returned. But its time that the authorities consider the damage that doping scandal has done to Indias image, for which they are more responsible than Ms Rani herself.