NADA panel lifts suspension on 10 dope-tainted athletes

NADA Director General Rahul Bhatnagar told PTI that the provisional suspension on all 10 athletes whose 'B' samples returned positive for Methylhexanemaine has been lifted following the WADA decision but they will still have to wait for a final verdict on the punishment on September 25.

Counsel for the athletes, R K Anand, however, said that three swimmers and two track and field athletes have been let off with a warning and they can now take part in any competition.

"The provisional suspension on all the 10 athletes has been lifted today. WADA had indicated that the NADA panel can take lenient view on the athletes in view of its decision to shift Methylhexanemaine from 'non-specified' to 'specified' category from next year," Bhatnagar said.

"The panel will give a final decision on the punishment of the athletes on September 25," he added. Anand, however, said that shot putter Saurabh Vij, discus thrower Akash Antil, and two swimmers have been let off and they can now take part in any competition. "Four of them have been let off. The shot putter, the discus thrower and the swimmers are let off and they can take part in any event. There was arguments in the case of six wrestlers and decision on them will be known on September 25," he told reporters after the hearing.

Bhatnagar said the athletes will have to wait till September 25 whether they can take part in next month's Commonwealth Games. "The provisional suspension has been lifted but the NADA panel is yet to give its final verdict which they will do on September 25. The panel will give its decision on the punishment to the athletes and if they are let off with a warning they may be able to take part in the Games," he said.

Shot putter Saurabh Vij has been named in Commonwealth Games athletics squad while swimmers Richa Mishra and Jyotsana Pansare, wrestlers Rajiv Tomar, Sumit, Mausam Khatri and Gursharanpreet Kaur have been replaced after their dope flunk. Others who had tested positive but were not part of the Games squad were wrestlers Rahul Mann and Joginder Singh, discus thrower Akash Antil, swimmer Amar Muralidharan.

Both swimmer Muralidharan, who tested positive for Methylhexanemaine and weightlifter Sanamacha Chanu, whose 'B' sample also returned positive, will be heard by the NADA panel on September 25.

Swimming Federation of India Secretary Virender Nanavati, however, said it could be difficult for the swimmers to come back to the Commonwealth Games' squad as the matter is very complicated.

"I think it is a unique case. We have named replacements and it would need IOA approval as well as from our selection committee to take them back," he said. "I have to see WADA regulations but I think even if they are let off (by NADA panel) they would need another test that they are negative of any banned substance. It will be very complicated (to take them back to Games' squad)," he said.

World Anti-Doping Agency in its Executive Committee meeting in Montreal on September 18 had decided to shift Methylhexanemaine from 'non-specified' category to 'specified substances' in its 2011 list of prohibited substances.

The punishment for use of 'specified substances' ranges from a warning to two-year ban whereas an offence for taking 'non-specified substance' would attract two-year ban.

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