New Delhi: Athletes and coaches found guilty of doping could be slapped with jail terms as the sports ministry is trying to generate a consensus on making the menace a criminal offense.
Laws of countries such as Germany and Australia are being studied for the purpose.
Interestingly, a few days back, sports minister Vijay Goel had said that criminalizing doping was not required since the system was strong to catch the offenders and the embarrassment that athletes face on being caught is itself a punishment.
However, the minister on Thursday said he fears that doping may fast spread to the junior level and it needs to be curbed by creating fear in the minds of athletes.
"We are deliberating if athletes can be sent to jail by introducing a new legislation which will make doping a criminal offense," Goel said on the sidelines of a seminar on 'Consultation meeting for drafting anti-doping legislation.'
Flanked by Navin Agarwal, director general, National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), Goel said, "I fear that the menace will spread to universities and school competitions. Earlier, it was limited to only the national level."
"And not only athletes, but coaches, trainers, doctors whoever is involved will be sent to jail. An immediate arrest could be made.
"Sometimes, the athletes unknowingly take banned substances. Due to the mistakes of their coaches, the athletes pay a price, but the coach goes scot-free. Everyone who aides in doping will be brought into the law net."
Agarwal said the efforts in the direction of "targeted testing" have produced good results since detection rate has gone up from 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
India had featured in top-3 for the third successive year in a report published by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for 2015.
A total of 117 athletes from the country were punished after testing positive for banned substances. India followed Russia (176) and Italy (129), the same position as in the reports of 2013 and 2014.
Agarwal also said the number of tests have touched 7,000 per year and it was a challenge for NADA to make sure that the coaches do not misguide their wards.
Goel said there was no time-frame to come up with a legislation.
"We are discussing it with all, be it law ministry or other stake-holders. We will see if it can be made a criminal offense. Also WADA needs to do its bit by empaneling few companies, whose drugs can be safely be used by athletes."