Mumbai: Former world champion long jumper Mike Powell feels that it is a blessing in disguise that athletes who are using banned drugs are being caught by the regulatory authorities.

“If you look at it, it's a good thing. It shows we are taking this seriously. Athletics is one of the few sports which is willing to burst its stars. As of now, if you try to use something now you are taking a big, big risk,” said Powell, currently the brand ambassador of the world athletics body IAAF.

Six track and field athletes, including two Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallists Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose, flunked dope tests for anabolic steroids in just two days.

“Athletics is at the forefront of any sport in the world as far as taking control to eliminate performance enhancing drugs. It's a necessary evil. We have to do it. I know for sure the culture is a lot different now,” said the 47-year-old Philadelphian.

The IAAF on Monday signed a 10-year deal with realty firm Nirmal Lifestyle to promote the mother sports in India. However Powell, who broke compatriot Bob Beamon's 23-year-old record set at the 1968 Mexico Olympics advocates life bans for offenders.

“I think if you are using drugs, you should be banned for life,” he stated.

Powell is happy to know that Anju Bobby George who was under his tutelege eight years back is making a comeback post motherhood eyeing a berth in the squad for London 2012.

“Anju is a very talented athlete. If she is healthy, then she has a chance. She is very competitive. When women have children and come back they have a little more strength and determination too. It's worth a try for her.

“I helped her win a world championship medal (bronze) in 2003 (at Paris). Good luck to Anju. I am very happy for her,” said Powell, whose rivalry with Carl Lewis lit up the long jump pit in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Powell declared that it was the continued excellence of Lewis on the long jump pit that paved the way for him to leapfrog Beamon's long-standing record.

(Agencies)