Sprint queen P T Usha discusses the latest doping scandal to hit Indian sport with Sriram Bala.
Over the last two weeks eight Indian athletes tested positive for use of banned stimulants. Among them were as many as six who did well at last year's Commonwealth and Asian Games.
The doping scandal has certainly dented India's hopes of a coveted track medal at next year's London Olympics, as three of those who failed the drug tests were Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medalists.
Sprint queen P T Usha, who won four gold medals in the Seoul Asiad in 1986, and narrowly missed out on a bronze in the women's 400m hurdles at the 1984 Games, discusses the episode with Sriram Bala.
Firstly, it's an honour to interview you. How are you doing maam?
Here, everything is fine. Nurturing talent at the P T Usha School is going on well. Despite so much financial difficulties, our school's training program, to achieve our ultimate aim of an Indian on the Olympics podium at London 2012, is going well. By the grace of God, up to this time, everything we achieved is as per our plan. We hope that we will do it for the sake of our country.
The Commonwealth Games was a huge success for the Indian athletics contingent, especially the female runners. Your comments.
Yes, of course, we did well at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Sini, Mandeep are seasoned athletes
A few days back, as many as five athletes tested positive for banned or performance-enhancing substances. Your reaction?
I was not shocked, because it was happening everywhere in the world. It was quite natural that India also fell prey to it.
Among the athletes accused are Sini Jose and Mandeep Kaur. They were part of the famous quartet that won the relay gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games; they are seasoned international athletes. Don't you think they should have been more preventive?
Prevention is better than cure. Till this time, from 1998, we prevented so many athletes; now what they face is inevitable!
Everybody is responsible
Besides this, it's been reported that there were 122 cases in an 11-month period, starting May 2010. The trend seems to be deep rooted within the system. Is it a recent trend?
In America, Africa, Europe, Asia and other parts of world it is quite a day-by-day affair. The advanced countries develop their own new methods of doping and advanced masking agents. In the area of athletics, we are still backward, and that's why so many people are getting caught. This is not a recent trend, as since 1998, Indian sports seem be under drug abuse.
There were repeated warnings, from many corners, yet the authorities took any action; that's why this would have happened.
Moreover, this is a worldwide phenomenon; we cannot separate our country alone. One thing is for sure: with patience, hard work, success will surely come. God is always right.
If proven guilty, aren't the coaches and administration also responsible? Many feel the coaches might be behind this as well. What do you think?
Everybody is responsible, because everybody is involved in this.
Ray of hope in the women's 800 meters
How should the federation move in eradicating this doping menace?
They should conduct more campaigns against the use of drugs, and, periodically, should conduct dope tests at the junior and senior levels.
Lastly, what are your hopes for the athletics contingent at the London 2012 Olympics?
There is a ray of hope in the women's 800 meters. We will see, as it is still work in progress.