Services athletes testing positive for banned substances is matter of grave concern

Monika Chaudhary
Monika Chaudhary

Aryaan Bhatia, 16, became the first Indian tennis player to test positive for a banned substance. National Anti-Doping Agency revealed that it had placed him on suspension with effect from January 19 as his urine sample, collected during the National Open in Delhi in October, had traces of Prednisolone.

Those close to the Mumbai lad, who won the Khelo India Youth Games U-17 title in Pune last month, are confident that they will be able to show that the banned substance got into his body because of a syrup he took to battle cold and cough during the National Open.

Meanwhile, it came as no surprise that the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) gave middle-distance runner Monika Chaudhry a four-year ban for testing positive for EPO in a test conducted immediately after she ran a selection trial in Delhi ahead of the Asian Games. She had approached the Delhi High Court to direct the Athletics Federation of India to conduct a trial for her.

It is also a matter of grave concern that a number of athletes taking part in Services championships have tested positive and have been placed on provisional suspension. Close on the heels of the suspension of National champion sprinter Sanjeet Singh, two handball players, two canoeing and kayaking athletes and a volleyball player tested positive in Services meets.

To make things worse, a Services hockey player, Bharat Singh, was given a four-year ban by ADDP after he tested positive during the Inter-Services Championship in October 2018. Navy bodybuilder Robi Meitei Moirangthem, who competed after being provisionally suspended, was given a two-year ban.

To return to Aryaan Bhatia, his chances of convincing the ADDP to consider the circumstances under which he tested positive when arriving at a decision hinge on some key factors. If he can substantiate his claim that he took prescription medicine as he was suffering from a cold, he can hope to invoke the no fault or negligence clause.

If his dope control form has mentioned the medication prescribed by the doctor and if he is able to produce the doctor’s prescription (and, for good measure, the cash memo as proof of purchase of the medicine), Aryaan Bhatia can push for an exoneration, failing which a reprimand with no period of ineligibility. That will let him keep the Khelo India Youth Games under-17 crown.

Aryaan Bhatia he may find succor in the fact that an ADDP recently exonerated para athlete Naryan Thakur after he consumed a medicine, containing a banned substance, Terbutaline, prescribed by a doctor working with the Sports Authority of India in Gandhinagar. Narayan Thakur won the Asian Para Games 100m gold in the T25 category.

An ADDP also let young gymnast Mohammed Anas get away with a reprimand after he produced documents to show that he had consumed medicine on doctor’s advice. He did not mention his medication on the dope control form but convinced the Panel that he bore no fault or negligence and hence got it to eliminate the period of ineligibility.

In the past, National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panels have dealt with four athletes who tested positive for prednisolone. They exonerated wrestler Vikrant Kumar but sanctioned equestrian rider Rohit Dagar and weightlifter Taranbir Singh for six months each and wrestler Gargi Yadav for a one-year period. 

This piece first appeared in Mail Today on Saturday, Feb 16, 2019.

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.