Historic show by Neeraj Chopra, but dope cases shame nation
NEW DELHI: Neeraj Chopra continued to conjure history-scripting performances, inspiring the likes of Avinash Sable and Murali Sreeshankar in their quest for global success, but the age-old dope menace raised its ugly head again and shamed the nation at the global stage.
At least six top Indian athletes were caught for using banned drugs and the run-up to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, as usual, was marred by a series of dope positive cases.
The legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George, also senior vice president of Athletics Federation of India, dropped a bombshell, saying that athletes who trained abroad brought back banned drugs for distribution among some of their colleagues.
The 24-year-old Chopra, the poster-boy of Indian athletics, continued his exploits after his historic javelin throw gold in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
He won a silver in the World Championships in the USA in July to become only the second Indian after Anju -- who won a bronze in 2003 Paris edition -- to win a medal at the showpiece. In September, he became the Diamond League champion by winning the Finals of the prestigious meeting series, adding another ‘first’ to his name.
Chopra, however, could not defend his Commonwealth Games gold at Birmingham due to the groin injury he sustained during the World Championships.
It was another eventful year for Chopra but he could not breach the 90m mark. He came agonisingly close with his 89.94m throw when he finished second in the Stockholm leg of the prestigious Diamond League.
In the absence of Chopra, it was left to steeplechaser Sable and long jumper Sreeshankar to lead the Indian challenge in the CWG where the competition is almost world level in some events.
Sreeshankar missed the gold by a whisker while Sable ended the hegemony of the Kenyans who have won all the three medals in men’s 3000m steeplechase event since the 1998 CWG.