Tainted athletes may get relief

Twelve Indian sportspersons -- six wrestlers, three swimmers, two athletes and a weightlifter -- had tested positive for methylhexanemaine in samples collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency. In the preliminary hearing, they had expressed their ignorance on how the substance came into their system. NADA had subsequently referred the matter to WADA about the rash of positive cases.

The world body’s executive committee, which approved the list of prohibited substances for 2011 on Saturday, said methylhexanemaine would be shifted to the group of specified substances instead of being in the non-specified group. The change would mean that sanctions could range from a "warning through to two years’ ineligibility", whereas under its present classification the sanction was a straight two-year ineligibility.

WADA noted that the substance is often marketed as a nutritional supplement and may frequently be referred to as 'geranium oil' or 'geranium root extract.” NADA Director General Rahul Bhatnagar said cases of 11 of the sportspersons who tested positive will come up for hearing by the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel on Wednesday.

Bhatnagar said even though the new list would come into effect only next year, WADA has informed that judicial notice might be taken of its revised status in the list in case of any hearings. As such, the athletes who were part of the Commonwealth Games squad, could even make a return if they are able to prove their innocence.

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