Geeta Rani hit with extra ban

Weightlifter Geeta Rani has been slapped with an increased suspension of four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Rani's samples collected on Feb 5, 2015 (during the 35th National Games, Thrissur) and March 5 (during All India Police Weightlifting Championships) tested positive for methandienone, an anabolic steroid.

She was handed a two-year suspension by the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel, beginning March 10, 2015, considering the violations as a single first violation. The sanctions, as a result, were handed as per the first doping violation. The reduced suspension was based on the argument that her drink was sabotaged by a fellow competitor.

The key testimony in the proceedings was given by Khajan Singh, former Asian Games medal winner in swimming, who was the DIG, CRPF where Rani was employed. Khajan told the panel that on an informal inquiry conducted by him he was told that Rani was cheated.

Rani went on to appeal to get her suspension reduced but the appeal panel upheld the decision of the disciplinary panel and retained the two-year sanction.

WADA, however, argued that the sabotage theory of 2006 CWG gold medallist, was not supported by evidence.

“The athletes' theory that the anti-doping violation was caused by the sabotage of another weightlifter ("third party attack") is mere speculation and unsupported by any cogent evidence,” the order read.

The sole CAS arbitrator concluded that the athlete has failed to satisfy her burden of establishing the origin of the prohibited substance and, therefore, the “violation must be deemed intentional.”

All the competitive results obtained by Geeta from and including Feb 5, 2015 now stand disqualified and with all resulting consequences (including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes).

In addition, the costs of the arbitration, to be determined and served on the parties by the CAS court office, shall be borne jointly and severally by the NADA and Rani. NADA will also contribute to the WADA's legal costs and expenses amounting to 5,000 Swiss Francs (Rs 3.39 lakh).

It was reminiscent of the case of six quarter-milers in 2011 when IAAF went into appeal in CAS against the decision of the Indian panels to give one-year suspensions and got it increased to two years. The AFI and athletes were asked to pay arbitration costs.

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