Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
After doping scandal, India cut Ukraine as training destination
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.