AFI cracks the whip on age-fraud menace at its AGM

Adille Sumariwalla

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has directed the state associations to take more responsibility against the growing age fraud menace. The federation in its Annual General Meeting (AGM) here on Friday decided to suspend the secretary of a state body if more than two of its athletes are found to be over-age in a national meet.

The issue of age fraud has been a headache for the AFI, which cracked the whip on the state associations on the first day of the meeting. The top officials of the AFI were of the view that to curb age-fudging the onus has to be on the office-bearers.  Earlier, the guilty athlete along with the state team was banned from national competitions for two years.

“We are going to hold the states responsible because the original entry comes from the state. It is not possible for AFI to go down to districts to find out. We are trying to give them unique IDs, biometric I cards and getting enough information from the parents,” said AFI President Adille Sumariwalla.

“With biometrics we are hopeful to curb it. It is a worldwide phenomenon. I sit at the chair of IAAF’s age manipulation committee and I see this problem in all developing countries where there is no immediate registration. In Europe there is no such problem as they register immediately. So Asia, Africa and in some cases South American countries have this problem.”

The constitution of the federations will now be amended to this effect. AFI Planning Commission Chairman Lalit Bhanot too pointed out at the increasing cases as a total of 115 athletes were found to be over-aged in National Youth and Junior Championships combined.

Sumariwalla also discussed the rising doping cases in the country and warned the state bodies to tackle it with firmness.

“We are moving towards making doping a criminal offence. As an IAAF Council Member, I know the pressure that is on a federation. The Russian federation being banned due to large scale doping,” he said.

“We have zero tolerance towards doping. States must get involved in ensuring that they do what they have to do. AFI has now got NADA to come to test at state level. We believe the biggest problem is at the junior and state level and it has to be killed there.”

In another decision, Chhattisgarh was suspended for poor organisation of National Youth Championships last year for six months and an ad hoc committee was formed

The AFI’s deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair, in his presentation, targeted three medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- one silver and two bronze. For 2024 Olympics, the target suggested by him was of six medals -- two golds, two silvers and two bronze.

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