Athlete is a common term, there is difference between athletes and athletics: AFI on doping

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New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) did not confirm if the two Olympic hopeful athletes, caught recently in doping, are from track and field but promised on Tuesday that guilty won't be supported.

Two athletes had failed dope tests conducted at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala last month.

Asked if it is a matter of concern that athletes are in doping net, ahead of the Olympics, AFI President Adille Sumariwalla did not give a direct answer.

'When NADA says athletes, they use it as a common term. Lifters, you know all other sports also, but it seems to come on to athletics, there is a little difference between athletes and athletics,' he said.

'It really leaves bad taste for athletes like Neeraj (Chopra) or (Murali) Sreeshankar, who are doing so well, to be bracketed as these dopers, it is degrading their performances, I am disappointed.... ' The AFI chief said the governing body has 'zero tolerance to doping.' 'If somebody is caught for doping, they will face the consequence of WADA, NADA and the law. We will not support anything to do with doping, whatever action has to be taken will be taken,' he said during a virtual press conference.

Sumariwalla said AFI is still figuring out where to station the Indian athletes in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic so that they can compete in tournaments in the run up to the Tokyo Games.

'Last one week lot of things have changed, suddenly due to second surge of COVID-19. Half of the Europe has shut down, we are looking at Finland, we don't know the situation in Poland and Turkey. We have asked to find out,' he said.

'They were supposed to go to South Africa but it is a no-no now, we are in touch with the Diamond League people and accordingly will station them somewhere in Europe, where it is safe for our athletes. It is a moving goalpost.' Hima Das was disqualified after a false start in a much-anticipated women's 100m sprint final in the Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championships here on Tuesday.

However, Sumariwalla backed the elite sprinter to come good in the her next competition.

'It was not a deliberate false start ... It was a hardly a foul start, it was a very very fine false start, it can happen to anybody. Even Usain Bolt had a false start.

'Before the race, I had a chat with her, she was confident. She is confident in 200m also. Hima has been in top 3 for long time, she is not new.' 'Lets wait for the end of the meet, Hima has 200m. We will see how good or bad they are. Let's not jump to conclusion.' Long jumper Murli Sreeshankar on Tuesday qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by bettering his own national record with a leap of 8.26m and Sumariwalla was quick to applaud his performance.

'Today Sreeshankar's 8.26m was outstanding. It is a huge performance. Every jump he went better and better. He is greatly talented. It puts him in good stead for Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Olympics.

'It is just a beginning for him as well as for Neeraj and there is a long wait to go. If you see their performances, it is credible.

'We are in right track. We had a pretty hard lockdown. It is only March. It is a long way to go, no one is near their peak, these are just warm up events. Before the Olympics, they will do what they have to do to sharpen their skills, train and then go into Olympic Games.' PTI ATK AT