Thursday, May 7, 2009

No doctors for athletes training for 2010 Commonwealth Games

No doctors for athletes training for 2010 Commonwealth GamesGuess how many doctors are available for 250 elite athletes training for the 2010 Commonwealth Games at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala? None. The last physician, Dr Ashok Ahuja, retired on Thursday and at Rs 25,000 that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is reportedly offering, chances of a replacement being found quickly appear slim.

Despite repeated efforts, NIS executive director LS Ranawat couldn’t be reached. He didn't return HT's calls and didn't reply to text messages.

Olympic bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh and Asian Games silver medallist wrestler Geetika Jakhar are among the campers. Apart from camps for elite boxers, wrestlers, weightlifters, athletes and gymnasts, the NIS also has a large batch of young cadets at the Centre of Excellence and students pursuing diploma courses.

Lack of qualified medical personnel forces athletes to seek treatment outside, putting them at serious risk of being given medicines banned by the World Anti Doping Agency. That’s not all. Lack of medicine supplies often mean that they may have the prescription but not the panacea.

Three weeks ago, a boxer in the Games’ core group of athletes suffering from acute stomach pain was shifted to a hospital outside the NIS because medicines weren’t available in the campus. It was the same with Ram Singh, another India pugilist. “The SAI keeps saying they are spending crores on our training but they don’t even have proper medical facilities,” said an international boxer.

“Earlier, medicines at the health centre was a problem and now there will be no doctor. In combat sports, chances of injuries are greater and full-time medical support is needed,” said a coach. “Now, players will have to go out to get treated. That’s dangerous because other doctors have no idea about the banned drugs.”

Sources at SAI said replacements were interviewed earlier in the week but none fit the bill. “At Rs 25,000 which is what the SAI will pay, you can’t even get a normal physician, forget getting a sports medicine doctor,” a source said.

Interestingly, there are only two physiotherapists here, both hardpressed for time from their teaching responsibilities.