‘New start for athletics in Pakistan’

AFP Secretary Khalid Mehmood has said that the two-year ban on 10 athletes is embarrassing for the country.

Natasha Raheel September 23, 2010

KARACHI: The Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Secretary Khalid Mehmood has said that the two-year ban on 10 athletes is embarrassing for the country.

The athletes, who were due to represent Pakistan in the Commonwealth Games, were handed bans after they tested positive for doping. However, Mehmood labelled the situation as a new beginning for athletics in Pakistan as the federation has begun to groom a squad for the 2012 South Asian Federation (SAF) Games.

Meanwhile, he said eight out of the 10 athletes were at their prime and represented Pakistan in different international events. Therefore it came as a shock that they risked their careers as they took a banned substance.

“It hasn’t harmed the federation since these athletes were never capable of winning a gold, silver or bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games or Asian Games for that matter,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune. “The athletes took these substances because they knew they were getting old. Mohammad Wasim and Sumaira Zahoor for example are 30, their age is a factor and explains why they want to take steroids and other drugs.”

According to Mehmood, the federation is investigating the source that provided the athletes with illegal substances and is also establishing dope-testing within different sports departments.

The secretary said that the athletes needed to be caught before they participated in the trials for national championships. Meanwhile, Mehmood also aimed at finding new athletes for the 2012 SAF games that will take place in New Delhi.

He, however, maintained that the ban was meant to be a lesson for the newcomers that the federation will not tolerate illegal practices.

“It’s not only the AFP’s problem. On a deeper level it’s the issue that the sports departments of Wapda and Army have to address as well. Three out of 10 banned athletes are from Wapda and the rest are from Army so they have a job to do as well,” said Mehmood, who also heads Wapda.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.


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