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.