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Hooked to performance enhancers

Lakshmi B. Ghosh


NEW DELHI: A "high" that an increasing number of the Capital's students are falling for, doping is fast becoming an accepted norm in school and campus circles. It is a habit that has especially gripped students involved in sports, according to a new survey that reveals that performance enhancers are now being used by even schoolchildren to ensure that they break into the higher level faster.

From taking a shot of alcohol and smoking joints to popping pills and using injections, there is much action happening off the games `track'. According to a recent study conducted by The Campus Newspaper, a student initiative that focuses on student aspirations and problems, most college authorities are aware of the practice but are doing little to control the menace.

But it is not just students involved in sports who seem to be turning towards performance enhancers. With an increasing number of teenagers joining gymnasiums to build body, the report says those wanting quicker results are also opting for these short cuts.

"Most of these students are in a desperate situation to prove themselves. They often don't get more than a season to prove themselves and in such cases 60 per cent of them succumb to the temptation of taking an enhancer to make a jump to the next level,'' said Venkatesh, an aspiring cricketer who says a number of students playing cricket at the university level too take enhancers before a match.

While accepting that there was a chance that in keeping with the general trend students were taking enhancers, the Director of Delhi University's Sports Council, J.S.Naruka, denied having any knowledge of the habit being prevalent among students.

"So far we have not witnessed any incident to get the impression that it is prevalent amongst students. It is not in our knowledge and so we don't believe our students are using it extensively. But because of the prevalent trend there could be a chance that they are using them on their own will.''

With literally no medical testing or guideline in place for tournaments at the university level, most students hardly ever get caught. And with coaches often being the supplier of the enhancers, getting out of the controversy is often easy for the students.

"Although most coaches admitted that their counterparts in other colleges were encouraging students, none of them openly admitted to encouraging their own students. But interestingly enough, almost all admitted to knowing about doping being a regular affair,'' said Ajay Jain, the editor of the paper at a press conference held here on Friday.

The paper report quotes Delhi University senior physician Jawahar Lal Jain as saying that "the problem starts at the school level were admissions to colleges are based on one's performance. And then one step leads to another. It is not that the government is not aware about the gravity of the problem. But no one is seriously about this issue. There are over 250 substances specified by the International Olympic Committee but where the money from to conduct tests at the school and level?''

While supplements of amino acids, creatine and phospho creatine are normal, some of the common steroids taken by students are Deca Durabolin, Sustanon and Stromba as well as herbal products like Ashwagandha and Gensing.

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