Narsingh Yadav doping fiasco: Can history show us how ADDP decision will pan out?
Narsingh Yadav’s case is expected to come up before the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) in New Delhi on Wednesday (27 July) while Inderjeet Singh’s ‘results management’ process that includes ‘B’ sample testing if necessary, is yet to be completed. Once that is done the Punjab athlete would also be brought before a disciplinary panel.
Two Rio-bound athletes have tested positive for banned drugs during the past ten days.
Freestyle wrestler Narsingh Yadav was the first one to be reported for a doping offence while the latest to provide shock waves among the sports fans in the country was shot putter Inderjeet Singh. Both have tested positive for steroids, a class of substance where the standard sanction is a four-year suspension unless the athlete is able to establishan “unintentional” ingestion of the substance.
Yadav’s case is expected to come up before the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) in New Delhi on Wednesday (27 July) while Inderjeet’s ‘results management’ process that includes ‘B’ sample testing if necessary, is yet to be completed. Once that is done the Punjab athlete would also be brought before a disciplinary panel.
The ADDP is a group of 15 members, five each from the legal, medical and sports fraternity. The chairman has to have a legal background; so too the four vice-chairpersons. Each one of the legal practitioners head a three-member panel that hears a doping case brought before it by NADA.
The panel members are nominated by the Union Sports Ministry in consultation with NADA. Individual panels are set up, on a case-by-case basis by the Chairman of the panel. Currently that post is held by Mr Ramnath, retired District and Sessions Judge of Delhi.
Narsingh tested positive for methandienone, not a popular steroid among Indian wrestlers, if one were to analyze the list of cases disposed of by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) up to 15 July 2016. There is not a single methandienone positive among the 46 cases of wrestlers handled by the disciplinary panel so far.
This should not mean methandienone is taboo in wrestling. All steroids help produce muscles, explosive power and strength. The effectiveness may vary from substance to substance, dosage to dosage and combinations in case other drugs are being used. Methandienone is more popular among bodybuilders, powerlifters and weightlifters at least in India. Some track and field athletes have also been found using the steroid in India.
Inderjeet was found to have two major metabolites of testosterone in his urine sample, androsterone and eticholonalone.
Both Yadav and Inderjeet have alleged “conspiracy” and “sabotage”. Yadav alleged that his stock of supplements seemed to have been spiked. He also alleged that his food might have been deliberately mixed with some banned substance by someone interested in preventing his Olympic participation.
Inderjeet has alleged that his sample was tampered with. He has said he had been against officialdom and it had struck back. The shot putter who threw 20.65m last year to make the Rio Olympic qualification has not explained how his sample had been tampered with and how he would have known about tampering without having sought the ‘B’ sample analysis.
NADA has explained that Inderjeet could seek ‘B’ sample analysis if he wished and can witness the opening of the ‘B’ sample bottle and ensure for himself whether there had been tampering.
The ‘B’ sample is the same urine sample as the ‘A’ sample, taken at the same doping control. An athlete is expected to collect his urine in a vessel and pour at least 30ml into the ‘B’ sample bottle and the remainder (at least 60ml) into the ‘A’ bottle and seal both the bottles. The Dope Control Officer (DCO) will check whether the bottles have been sealed and allow the athlete also to ensure that they are properly sealed. The athlete then would be required to sign a document stating that everything had been done according to his satisfaction.
The Bereg doping control bottle, manufactured by Berlinger, Switzerland, has been found to be tamper proof through the years. However, in the latest episode of Sochi laboratory “sample swapping” methodology adopted by the Russians in the 2014 Winter Olympics it has been proved that they had managed to open the sealed bottles to replace original samples with “clean urine” from the athletes. Careful examination of the bottle, however, would reveal tampering, the investigator’s report stated.
Yadav has pinned his argument on supplements contamination because of deliberate spiking as well as food adulteration but he may have a tough time proving these charges. If the supplements turn out to be laced with methandienone then he would have a strong case; otherwise he might have to just hope for the best through his contention that his food could have been mixed with drugs.
In two previous cases in India, both in athletics, both shot putters, hearing panels gave relief to athletes on the argument of “sabotage” and “supplement contamination”.
One athlete, Saurabh Vij, argued that his fruit drink was spiked by his training partner with a steroid (testosterone), and another, Kashish Khanna, contended that he had consumed a supplement that seemed to have produced the positive result for stanozolol. He said his supplement was contaminated.
Vij, an international athlete, who received a four-year sanction in 2014 for a steroid offence (his second after the methylhexaneamine violation in 2010) won his argument before the disciplinary panel that gave him a “reduced sanction” and
again before the appeal panel which upheld the first panel’s decision.
The appeal panel was satisfied that Vij’s training partner had spiked his fruit drink at the time of the Federation Cup at Patiala in April 2012 out of “ill will”. It rejected an appeal by NADA for enhanced sanction.
A disciplinary panel gave a reduced sanction of two years for a steroid violation to Khanna in March this year on the argument that the athlete was able to prove that the banned substance had entered his body through the supplement he had taken. The panel noted that he had written down the name of the supplement in his doping control form and that showed he had no intention to cheat.
The panel did not order a laboratory test of the supplement to determine whether it contained stanozolol (as has been done in the case of Yadav now), which it was entitled to seek. NADA also did not go for such a test. Khanna’s test was done by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at Patiala in April 2015.
If the charges are proved, both Yadav and Inderjeet could face up to four years suspensions under the 2015 NADA anti-doping rules based on the revised WADA Code. “No significant fault or negligence” could be a clause to seek lesser sanction, but in such cases an athlete would have to prove how the banned substance entered his body.
It is not clear where the appeal would lie for Yadav in case the decision goes against him. Being an athlete included in the Registered Testing Pool of international federation (UWW), he should be considered an “international-level” athlete in which case his option would be to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Lausanne, Switzerland. The UWW, NADA International Olympic Committee (IOC), since this is a matter that would affect the Olympics, and WADA would also have the right of appeal at CAS.
In the case of Inderjeet, the appeal would be heard by the Appeal Panel in India. WADA, NADA and the athlete would have the right of appeal at the national level. The IAAF and WADA would have the right to appeal to CAS in case they are not satisfied with the decision at the national level.
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