MHA offenders slapped with two-year suspension

Swimmer Richa, wrestler Katri among the guilty

The 11 sportspersons, who were facing charges of using of methylhexaneamine (MHA), were handed two-year suspensions by the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel on Monday.

The case dates back to September 2010 and involved swimmers Richa Mishra, Jyotsana Pansare and Amar Muralidharan, wrestlers Mausam Khatri, Rajeev Tomar, Rahul Mann, Joginder Singh, Gursharanpreet Kaur and Sumit, javelin thrower Aakash Antil and shot putter Sourabh Vij.

Their suspensions will be effective from the decision date (Nov 5), while all their results from the sample collection date will be disqualified. The biggest loser in this will be Khatri who will be stripped of his bronze in the 96kg freestyle division in the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

All of them tested positive for MHA in August 2010, which was shifted to the category of ‘specified’ substances in September 2010 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), thus allowing the panel to lift their provisional suspensions and making them eligible to compete at national and international level.

Among these athletes, Richa has been a multiple national champion and won 16 medals, including 11 golds, in the National Games at Ranchi last year. She has been a standout performer in National Championships as well, and won the best swimmer award for the seventh straight time in Pune last month.

Tomar is a 2010 Arjuna awardee.

All these athletes will now be stripped of their achievements from the date of sample collection, which will cost them their medals, points and prizes.

It is also for the first time that Article 10.8 of the NADA code, which disqualifies the results of the athletes from the date of sample collection, has been applied by a panel in India.
The panel in this case was headed by retired judge Dinesh Dayal and included former Asian badminton champion Dinesh Khanna and Dr N K Khadiya.

The article says: “In addition to the automatic disqualification of the results in the competition which produced the positive sample under Article 9 (Automatic Disqualification of Individual Results), all other competitive results obtained from the date a positive sample was collected (whether in-competition or out-of-competition), or other anti-doping rule violation occurred, through the commencement of any provisional suspension or ineligibility period, shall, unless fairness requires otherwise, be disqualified with all of the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”

 The athletes were represented by lawyer RK Anand who based his case on unreliable methods of the National Dope-Testing Laboratory (NDTL) and loopholes in the chain of custody. But the panel was not convinced and had termed the objection “baseless”.

“This (WADA) document also refers that the laboratory is not required to support an adverse analytical finding by providing standard operating procedures (SOP), and general quality management documents (ISO compliance documents),” read the order in the case of  Richa Mishra, who had claimed she took supplements.

“The athlete had raised baseless objections about the testing procedures at NDTL and has completely failed to show any deviations from the anti-doping rules or procedures which could invalidate the findings, decision or the result.”

However, there were chances that swimmers Amar Muralidharan and Jyotsana Pansare may be let off after four pages of Amar’s documentation package were exchanged with Pansare.

But the order stated that the errors were made in initial testing and only in documentation packages and they did not affecting the results of testing.

All the wrestlers except Gursharanpreet Kaur had argued in their defence that they had applied ‘ayurvedic oil’ for massage which was responsible for their positive results but the panel dismissed the argument.

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