- Actor Suneil Shetty to be unveiled as the next ambassador of NADA on Tuesday.
- Over 150 athletes have already been tested positive for banned substances this year.
- The anti-doping agency hopes that the clout and reach of the actor will help them in the fight against doping.
Actor Suniel Shetty is all set to be announced as the brand ambassador of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in New Delhi on Tuesday. The anti-doping body is pinning its hopes that the actor’s celebrity status will support its fight to make sports in the country clear of the doping menace.
Over 150 athletes have already failed dope tests this year, although the bodybuilders are the offenders on more than one-third of the occasions. This is hardly a welcome sign given that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will start in under eight months.
Furthermore, the WADA suspending National Anti-Doping Laboratory earlier this year is another issue India is facing since henceforward, the dope samples collected from the athletes by NADA will have to be tested outside the country.
This has, in turn, raised fears as to how India will be able to test enough athletes in the upcoming months ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Navin Agarwal, NADA director general, pointed out that Shetty’s celebrity status will provide him more “reach” and “clout” than sportspersons.
“We thought that an actor of the status of Suniel Shetty will be able to send out a message to shun doping, that doping is not good for themselves and for the country. We felt that celebrities will have more outreach to the masses of the country as they have a lot of following,” he said.
When asked whether a former or a current athlete would have been appropriate for the role of a brand ambassador, Agarwal informed, “A former athlete would have lacked clout (as compared to a film star) and may not be able to spread the message (to shun doping) to the masses.
“As far as current athletes are concerned, they are busy playing their respective tournaments and training, so we have not thought about them for this.”
However, former Olympian sprinter Ashwini Nachappa said she won’t be too critical of the NADA’s latest initiative since brand ambassadors “have nothing much to do.”
“I am not sure about the rationale of the NADA making an actor as the brand ambassador. At the same time I will not be too critical because brand ambassadors come and go and they have nothing much to do,” she said.