The Athletics Federation of India on Saturday banned two young athletes – Parkash Singha and Dhananjay from taking part in the 35th National Junior Championships as both were found carrying syringes in their bags. The call was taken keeping in mind the AFI’s no-needle policy, violating which could lead to a ban up to two years.

“Officials are keeping a close watch and the two athletes were caught with syringes,” said an official.

To counter the once-rising number of dope scandals among Indian athletes, the AFI had drafted the no-needle policy. During the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, a used syringe was recovered from outside the room of a seasoned boxer, the CWG organisers had targeted all arriving Indian batches for dope testing.

As per the No-Needle Policy: “Needles must not be used except by medically qualified practitioners for treatment of injury, illness or other medical conditions (for which a valid TUE may be required) those requiring auto-injection therapy for an established medical condition with a valid TUE.”

In August last year, the Indian Olympics Association had instructed all its Asian Games bound athletes to adhere to the policy. On Saturday, three other athletes were disqualified at the junior Nationals in Guntur for violating the federation’s no-needle policy on the opening day of the five-day meet.

Under the proposals drafted by AIF earlier this year, an athlete in the national camp/in-competition or at other non-competition venues violating the policy will be suspended from domestic and international competitions for a period of three months. For a second violation, the suspension will be of one year while a subsequent breach will attract a two-year ban.

The Sportstar reported that over 90 athletes were also barred from competing in the event since they failed age-verification tests. AFI became quite possibly the first National Sports Federation to issue biometrics card to athletes so that they do not have to undergo long age-verification process at each meet.

“With this competition, AFI has implemented biometric unique identification process that will prove to be a game changer in tackling age fraud and cheating,” Adille J Sumariwalla, AFI President said.

“We want to promote fair play and keep the sport clean. We want to save the genuine athletes who suffer at the hands of age frauds. Same is with doping, we are keeping a close eye during meets and follow no needle policy. Anyone caught with syringes will be suspended with immediate effect.”