For a long time, the South Asian countries were unusual in their refreshing lack of interest in most sports. Giant India, for example, won only a single medal at both the 2000 and 2004 summer Olympics. But in 2012, India was up to six medals (none gold, though).
What's the secret behind this sextupling of medalage in just eight years? How are they doing it? Apparently, the same way wiry Dominican utility infielders became massive Dominican sluggers, just not as effectively.
From the NYT:
Steroids and Sports in India: Nearly 500 athletes from India have tested positive for banned substances since 2009, when the country’s National Anti-Doping Agency became fully functional.
By REBECCA BYERLY
... Athletes around the world have had their careers marred by doping, but Indian athletes, with easy access to legal steroids and limited knowledge about their consequences, lead the world in suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use.
Nearly 500 have tested positive for banned substances since 2009, when India’s National Anti-Doping Agency, known as NADA, became fully functional. In 2012 alone, 178 Indians were barred from competition. Russia has had the second-highest number of suspensions, with more than 260 athletes barred since 2009.
At the same time, Russia, with a population of 143 million, has had great international athletic success, and India, a nation of 1.2 billion, has underperformed. India has won only 26 medals in the 113 years it has competed in the Olympic Games. Russia has earned 482 Olympic medals since it began competing as the Russian Federation in the 1994 Winter Games.