Tirupati, November 20: Dope testing will a part of the MILO National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet 2019 for the first time in the 17-year history of the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) flagship talent hunt programme, with the National Anti-Doping Agency sending a team to collect a number of samples in the three-day event, beginning here on Saturday.

AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said anti-doping measures this year will be among the major steps taken towards raising the bar and making NIDJAM a most prized event for the young athletes. “We want to spread the message of clean sport among these youngsters,” he said, welcoming NADA’s decision to send a team to Tirupati.

“At the AFI, we have been actively pursuing a zero-tolerance policy against doping. We were the first National Sports Federation to activate no-needle policy in national camps and competitions. We have had no hesitation in ejecting athletes either from camps or from competitions for infringing the no-needle policy,” he said.

“We believe the presence of Dope Control Officers through the meet can send positive messages in the athletics fraternity and strike fear among those who think that taking shortcuts is the best way to achieve goals. We are thankful to NADA for having indicated to us that its team of Dope Control Officers will be in Tirupati to collect samples at NIDJAM,” Mr. Adille Sumariwalla said.

At the closing ceremony of the National Open Athletics Championships in Ranchi recently, the AFI President had sternly warned athletes against using prohibited substances. He had pointed out that dope cheats would get caught sooner than later. He reaffirmed AFI’s support for clean athletes, insisting that the fight against doping would get stronger.

More than 50000 athletes in nearly 500 districts have taken part in the largest talent search competition by a National Sports Federation. And more than 4500 boys and girls will head to Tirupati to showcase their talent in the he three-day event at the Sri Venkateswara University Stadium.

MILO NIDJAM 2019 will feature five events each – 100m, 600m, High Jump, Long  Jump and Shot Put – under-14 boys and girls have while the under-16 boys and girls will vie for honours in 100m, 200m, 400m, 1000m, 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Long Jump, Shot Put, Discus Throw and Javelin Throw.