Tough journey back for athletes

The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict on Tuesday, ensuring two-year ban on six Indian athletes, comes as the final blow to their plans of making an early return to the track.

Ashwini Akkunji, Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar were hoping to make a return to the track after completing their one-year ban for steroid violation.
But the International Association of Athletics Federation appealed against the decision by the National Anti-Doping Agency decision, and asked for a normal two-year suspension to be imposed on them.

The CAS struck down the NADA decision, which was based on the view that the athletes weren’t guilty of intentionally taking the banned substances.

“We did not find any significant fault on the part of these athletes on how the banned substance entered their bodies and they will get reduced penalty under clause 10.5.2 NADA rule,” NADA panel chief Dinesh Dayal had said at that time.

Their ban period will start from the day of provisional suspension slapped on them by the NADA last year. “The appeals filed by the IAAF against the decisions taken by Indian Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel on 23 December 2011 in relation to the following runners Ms Mandeep Kaur, Ms Jauna Murmu, Ms Ashwini, Ms Panwar, Ms Mary Thomas and Ms Jose have been upheld,” the CAS said in its ruling.
“Ms Mandeep Kaur, Ms Jauna Murmu, Ms Ashwini, Ms Panwar, Ms Mary Thomas and Ms Jose are all declared ineligible for a period of two years starting from the date of the award (17 July 2012), given credit of the period of their previous period of ineligibility and subsequent provisional suspension already served,” the ruling said.

The decision of the CAS, delivered last night in Lausanne by Mark Hovell of United Kingdom, is final. Three of the six athletes were present at the hearing on Monday while the other three pleaded their case via video conference.

Ashwini will also be stripped of the gold she had won in the 400M race in the National Inter-State Championships in Bangalore in June last year while Mandeep and Juana would be stripped of the silver and bronze they had won in the same event.

Tiana Mary will also have to part with the gold she had clinched as a member of Kerala’s 4X400m gold-winning relay quartet, with the CAS order stating that all their results from the date of their sample collection should be annulled as per IAAF rules.

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