Indian athletes should do blood tests every month: Johnson

July 30th, 2011 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, a double Olympic bronze medallist, says it is best for Indian athletes to get their blood tested every month by a certified doctor and keep the record to prove their innocence if they have taken any banned substance unknowingly.

Johnson, who was stripped of his 100 meters gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for testing positive, offered to help out the dope-tainted Indian athletes and he is even willing to train the country’s track stars.

He asked the eight suspended Indian athletes to learn from his life as it is a perfect example for them.

Johnson said it is difficult to find a clean athlete in today’s world and, worse, those on dope are getting away scot free.

Johnson, who tested positive for Stanozolol in Seoul, said Indian athletes should get their blood tested every month to have a clear idea of the substances in their blood.

“It is very important for all athletes to get their blood tested every month by a certified doctor and keep a record of it. So, if they take any substance unknowingly then they can show the records to prove their innocence. But I feel it is very difficult to find a clean athlete in the world,” Johnson told IANS from Panaji.

Johnson is on a visit to Goa with his two Indian-origin students who appeared for trials Saturday with I-League champions football club Salgaocars.

“I would like to coach Indian athletes and make them aware of the harmful effects of doping. It is a global problem and all sports are afflicted by it. I have gone through this and I can tell you it is a trap and very difficult to get out of it,” Johnson said.

“My life stands as an example for those athletes who have failed dope test.”

Johnson’s 1987 world record was rescinded by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) after he admitted having used steroids during the Rome World Championships.

Johnson, who is a Jamaican by birth, said he was too young to know about drugs and was subjected to systematic doping.

“Role of a coach is important because he acts as the guide for the athletes, who come from poor back ground. It is for the national federations to educate the players and the coaches regularly,” he said.

He feels it would be tough for the eight top Indian athletes to make a comeback to the international circuit, though it is not impossible.

“Their chances of going to London Olympics next year are over and coming back for the Rio Games in 2016 will certainly be tough. But if they believe in themselves, it is not impossible,” he said.

The Canadian said athletes today don’t need performance enhancing steroids as advanced substances are available in the market.

“Today you don’t need to take steroids. There are several natural supplements which act as stimulants and also as masking agents. Today there are several top level athletes, who are on dope and are getting away scot free,” he said.

On Jamaican Usain Bolt’s chances of defending his Olympic gold in London, Johnson said: “It will be tough. No sprinter in the history of Olympics has defended his title and if he does then there is something wrong.”

Johnson’s, rival American Carl Lewis, however, is the only sprinter to defend his 100 metres gold by default. Lewis won the gold in 1988 Olympics after Johnson flunked the dope test.

(Abhishek Roy can be contacted at abhishek.roy@ians.in)

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