Richa could lose out in a big way

The decision of the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel to disqualify the performances of the 11 athletes, who have been given a two-year ban for using methylhexaneamine (MHA), might cause a major upheaval in the swimming results over the last two years, with Richa Mishra being the focal point.

The anti-doping panel handed the ban to swimmers Richa, 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.
The athletes plan to appeal but if they fail to get a verdict in their favour, they will be stripped of their medals and prizes from the date of the sample collection.

Khatri could lose his bronze medal in the 96kg freestyle division from the 2011 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Vij too had continued to compete after his provisional suspension was lifted, finishing sixth in the 2010 Asian Games and fourth in the 2011 Asian Championships in Kobe. He failed another dope test, on a sample taken at the Indian Grand Prix at Patiala in April this year, this time for a steroid. The Delhi athlete, as such, faces a lengthy ban. But if the results are annulled, the biggest ripples could come in the swimming pool.

Richa has been a multiple national champion with the Delhiite winning the best swimmer award for the seventh successive time at the Senior Nationals last month in Pune. She won 16 medals 11 gold, 4 silver and one bronze, at the 2011 National Games in Ranchi.  In 2010, Nationals in Jaipur, Richa won three gold and one silver while last year in Ranchi, she claimed five titles.

“I haven’t received any communication from NADA regarding the ban. Only after we receive it, we will decide on the future course of action,” said Virendra Nanavati, the CEO of Swimming Federation of India on Tuesday. “Regarding the results and medals, I have to talk to FINA before taking a decision. But if the athletes are going to appeal then we have to wait,” added Nanavati.

Jyotsna, who bagged three crowns in Pune, may also lose a handful of medals with the teenager having won several medals on the Junior circuit. The 17-year-old, who bagged four gold medals, was the best swimmer in Group I at the 2011 Junior Nationals in Bhopal.

In such a scenario, the biggest beneficiaries could be Karnataka swimmers Surabhi Tipre and Pooja R Alva. In fact, Surabhi played second fiddle to the seasoned Richa in seven races in the last three Senior Nationals while Pooja was beaten eight times by the Delhiite — four each at the National Games and the Nationals from 2010-12.

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