Gomathi faces four-year ban

Gomathi Marimuthu

Gomathi Marimuthu stares at a four-year ban from athletics after being confirmed to have tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of steroid nandrolone.

The 30-year-old will be stripped of her Asian championships gold medal, which had made her an overnight star in India if it is found that she tested positive in Doha. There is some confusion in the AFI ranks whether there were two positive results, one from the Asian championships and the other from the Fed Cup at Patiala in March.

Gomathi is the second Asian champion in two years to have tested positive. Before her, shot-putter Manpreet Kaur was caught in the dope net in 2017. Gomathi has been provisionally suspended and she would be put through the usual procedures of provisional hearing and ‘B’ sample testing etc in due course.

As first reported by DH, Gomathi would not be travelling to Spala, Poland where a batch of Indian athletes is training.

According to sources, Gomathi's urine samples returned positive during Federation Cup (March 13-15) and also the Asian Championships (April 21-24), where her unexpected triumph in the women's 800m shot her into the limelight.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla said his federation would make sure appropriate action would be taken against Gomathi.

“We have zero tolerance towards anybody who gets caught. The AFI will make sure she faces the consequences of her actions. Our stand remains the same whether a particular athlete is a World champion, an Olympic champion or an Asian champion. We will fight this at all levels,” Sumariwalla told DH.

The Asian Athletics Association (AAA) would be in charge of the proceedings for the positive result recorded in the Asian championships. The AAA can delegate the responsibility to the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) if it so desired.

Coach Jaswinder Singh Bhatia, who had worked with Gomathi, denied any information regarding the doping episode and said she had not trained with him for more than a week. He, however, admitted being “surprised when Gomathi beat the girls who were in the camp.”

Sources within AFI said Gomathi's positive dope test did not come as a surprise. The Tamil Nadu athlete had clocked a personal best time of 2:02:70s in the Asian Championships in Doha last month. She had bettered her previous best of 2:03:21 she had achieved in the Federation Cup at Patiala in March this year.

“She was not part of the camp and clocked 2:02:70 in Doha, it definitely raises eyebrows. If the lab report of Federation Cup had come on time, the AFI would not have sent her to the Asian Championships,” the source said.

Sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya said the ministry in its meetings with the AFI took a few decisions to curb the menace of doping in Indian sports. “Today we had a meeting with AFI over ACTC and we spoke on the recent doping case. Federation is going to take action, it is going to suspend her registration and once that is done we will not be supporting her financially. This goes for all the athletes who have tested positive,” Julaniya told DH.

“We have also decided to conduct all national camp dope testing of players. When dope testing is being done and if the athlete is not present, it will be presumed his absence was deliberate.”

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