After dop­ing scan­dal, In­dia cut Ukraine as train­ing des­ti­na­tion

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - SPORT - Navneet Singh ■ sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In­dia’s chief ath­let­ics coach, Ba­hadur Singh, has ruled out send­ing top ath­letes to train in Ukraine in the build-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The for­mer Asian Games shot put cham­pion said the ex­cep­tion would be com­pe­ti­tions held in that coun­try.

“We don’t have any plans to send ath­letes to Ukraine,” Ba­hadur Singh told HT. “The gov­ern­ment had raised ob­jec­tions in 2011 after dop­ing in­ci­dents fol­low­ing the Delhi Com­mon­wealth Games.”

Ukraine has been a favourite des­ti­na­tion of top In­dian ath­letes in the past, but the dop­ing scan­dal in­volv­ing at least the top six In­dian women’s 400m run­ners led the sports min­istry to refuse clear­ance for train­ing stints in Ukraine. The last time the gov­ern­ment al­lowed top ath­letes, in­clud­ing sprint­ers, to train there was ahead of the CWG.

Ba­hadur Singh de­nied Ukraine is con­sid­ered a haven for dop­ing of­fend­ers. FOR­EIGN COACHES AXED

In 2011, Ukrainian sprint­ing coach Yuri Ogrond­nik be­came the first ca­su­alty in the wake of the dop­ing scan­dal after his con­tract was ter­mi­nated by the gov­ern­ment. In­dian coaches N Ramesh and RS Sidhu re­or­gan­ised the women’s 4x400m squad, which de­fended the ti­tle at the In­cheon Asiad.

Re­cently, Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tion of In­dia (AFI) had ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment over the func­tion­ing of Ukraine ex­pert Ana­toli Varda, tasked with train­ing of the top ath­letes in the na­tional camp for over three years. He has been asked ‘in prin­ci­ple’ to quit. “His con­tract will not be re­newed,” he said.

The AFI is also not in favour of re­new­ing the con­tract of high jump ex­pert, Leve­gen Nik­tin, also from Ukraine. He trained woman high jumper Sa­hana Ku­mari, who qual­i­fied for the London Olympics but was far from im­pres­sive there.

Sur­pris­ingly, AFI had pro­posed a pay hike for both Varda and Nik­tin after the London Games de­spite their train­ing not pro­duc­ing re­sults. The fed­er­a­tion has changed its mind. “The coaches were not able to ad­just to In­dian con­di­tions, so they have been asked to leave,” he said.

The AFI has, how­ever, re­called Ukrainian sprints coach Dmitry Vanyaikin. He had helped In­dia win the his­toric men’s 4x100m re­lay bronze medal in the Delhi CWG. He con­tin­ued to over­see the na­tional camp but once the re­lay squad failed to achieve qual­i­fi­ca­tion for London 2012, Vanyaikin re­turned home cit­ing health is­sues. Ba­hadur Singh be­lieves Vanyaikin, who was at this week’s Open Na­tion­als in Delhi, can do won­ders. The 2015 ath­let­ics cal­en­dar in­cludes the World and Asian cham­pi­onships.

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