Mumbai: Long jump world record holder Mike Powell believes it is possible that the Indian athletes in the centre of the dope scam may be innocent.
Powell, who is the ambassador for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), was in the city yesterday to announce a 10-year strategic partnership with Nirmal Lifestyle to develop athletics in India. Powell shared his views on doping with MiD DAY.
Excerpts from an interview:
Is it possible for an athlete to be unaware of what he/she is consuming?
I think that they are innocent. When I competed I used to take only multivitamins, as I was scared to take certain things. On the label they say what they have in it, but you don't know what they put in there actually. From what I see of the situation, it may be a mistake.
I think in such a situation one should exhaust every opportunity and see what really happened. When
you test positive, you have to be banned but you got to give them one chance to prove their innocence.
To what extent are coaches responsible in such situations?
It may not be the coach's fault either. Maybe, it is the fault of the company whose supplement they (athletes) must have consumed. Maybe, the company made a mistake and you never know.
Is it true that doping is so common in athletics that nowadays it is more a question of masking the dope effectively rather than avoiding it?
Doping is not as common as it used to be. Athletics is a stronger sport and it is taking doping seriously and is willing to burst its stars. But whenever there is power or money to be gained, you are going to have people trying to cheat. That's just going to be that way.
Do you think Anju Bobby George, who trained under you, is over the hill? Is she a spent force?
Anju is a very very talented athlete and a very strong competitor. She works really hard and as long as she is healthy she has an opportunity to do something special. Anju can give me a call if she needs me (laughs).
Though you broke Bob Beamon's record, his mark is still considered one of the greatest of all time. How do you feel about that?
I was just really happy and proud and I was more excited about beating Carl Lewis. When Bob broke the record, he broke it by 55 cms.
The significance of what he did as compared to what I did was much bigger for him. Bob and I are good friends and I have a lot of respect for him and for what he did.
What is it that you admired in Carl Lewis?
He was so immensely strong. He was fierce and I was a big competitor of his but I respect him a lot. We are good friends.