NADA appeals panel reserves judgement

The NADA appeals panel headed by retired judge CK Mahajan on Wednesday reserved the judgement on the appeal of the four quarter-milers against the one-year ban handed to them for doping.

The panel heard the last round of arguments between prosecution and defence and are likely to come out with a final verdict during mid-March. The athletes are Asian Games gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji, Sini Jose, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar who were banned in December.

In the hearing, a fresh letter from WADA on a query from the NADA lawyers was discussed in which the apex body reiterated its stance of not challenging the explanations of the athletes and the "source" of the prohibited substance found in the athletes samples.

Mahajan once again found the WADA appeal contradictory but nonetheless, chose to go ahead with the proceedings.

With no further arguments on the source of prohibited substances, players' advocate RK Anand then sought to prove no fault and negligence on their part. He said during the national camp, an athlete is within a confine and his food and nutrition is the responsibility of the government. Under such circumstances, Anand argued, his wards had no option but to follow the advice of the coaches in the camp.

He said the various judgements over the contaminated supplements at CAS cannot be applied to the Indian environment, where everything is controlled by the government and facilities not as advanced as in other developed countries.

Anand questioned why no action has been taken against Sports Authority of India and Athletic Federation of India (AFI) as they were the ones responsible for appointment of coaches and providing the supplements.

NADA lawyer Rahul Kumar in his rebuttal insisted the athletes were negligent throughout. Pointing at the supplement chart made by the sacked coach, Kumar said the athletes by their own admissions had taken several supplements apart from those listed in the schedule. He argued the athlete's coach Yuri Ogorodnik’s statements cannot be relied on as they were contradictory.

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