Having joined the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month through its Athlete Outreach Programme, Keshavan is at the Hangzhou Asian Games here to meet and educate athletes about doping-related issues
India’s Winter Olympics star Shiva Keshavan outside the Athletes Village in Hangzhou on Saturday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
India’s poster boy of the Winter Olympics, luger Shiva Keshavan, 40, has happily switched to the other side. The six-time Olympian, who quit the sport after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, is on a mission to help athletes understand the nuances of everything associated with the dreaded ‘D’ word in competitive sport—doping.
Having joined the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month through its Athlete Outreach Programme, Keshavan is at the Hangzhou Asian Games here to meet and educate athletes about doping-related issues. “I had nominated myself as an athlete representative and received a call from WADA, asking me if I could be a part of this [anti-doping education system]. I accepted and here I am, meeting and interacting with athletes, answering their queries and advising them on the issue of doping in sport,” Keshavan told reporters outside the Athletes Village here.
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Interestingly, the job is not as easy as it seems and often Keshavan has to bobsled his way through to get his point across. “There is a lot of taboo associated with doping so it’s understandable that not everyone is comfortable talking about it, and initially, most athletes, Indians included, are hesitant. But when they realise that I am here to answer their questions like what happens if you test positive or how do you go about the ‘B’ sample test thereafter or what are the sanctions like, they open up. We need a lot of education across the board and that’s where the Athlete Outreach Programme comes in. Through the respective National Anti-Doping Agencies [NADA], my job is to ensure that it’s not only about handing out the stick [punishment], but also about getting athletes on board to be part of it because that’s a more effective way to make sure this is maintained,” added Keshavan, who is the only Indian athlete associated with this WADA initiative.
“WADA is not here to victimise anyone. The idea is to eliminate the fears and stigma associated with doping. WADA wants to ensure all athletes are healthy and so is sport,” Keshavan signed off, hoping that his new role continues right through to the 2024 Paris Olympics and beyond.