Neither the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel (NADDP) nor the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) bothered to bring in the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in deciding the cases of Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu while disposing of a set of seven doping violation decisions on Friday.
Had the IAAF rules been applied, it was quite possible that these two athletes would have faced a harsher sanction at the first-level of hearing than the one-year suspension that they received from the panel.
Among the six cases of woman quarter-milers, the samples of Mandeep and Murmu were collected by an IAAF team at Patiala last May. The others were under the doping control of the NADA.
The IAAF rules stipulate that the National federation would hold the hearings in such cases.
It was at the instance of the NADA that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the IAAF agreed to transfer the Mandeep-Murmu cases to the NADDP provided the panel applied the IAAF rules in both these cases.
During the hearings there never was any mention of the IAAF rules. The cases were heard collectively.
The IAAF, it is learnt, wrote a second time to insist that its rules should be applied and warned that any one-sided decision would be challenged in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The IAAF rules state that the determination whether ‘exceptional circumstances' (Article 10.5 of the Code) existed or not in a particular case would be made by its Doping Review Board and that decision would be binding on the hearing panel.
One of the supplements the athletes purportedly consumed turned up ‘positive' in a test conducted by the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) and that proved a good enough argument for the defence.
The IAAF was never brought into the picture even though the Mandeep-Murmu cases should have been referred to its panel once the ‘exceptional circumstances' rule (‘no significant fault or negligence') was being applied to reduce the sanctions.
The AFI claimed on Saturday that it was not kept informed about the dates of the hearings.
There is very little scope in the IAAF rules to either bring in the ‘supplements defence' or to take a plea that a coach had given the substance in question and the athletes blindly followed the coach's instructions.
IAAF rule 38 (15 c) states: “…the following will not normally be regarded as cases which are truly exceptional: an allegation that the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method was given to an athlete by another person without his knowledge, an allegation that the Prohibited Substance was taken by mistake, an allegation that the Prohibited Substance was due to the taking of contaminated food supplements or an allegation that medication was prescribed by Athlete Support Personnel in ignorance of the fact that it contained a Prohibited Substance.”
While the NADDP pinned the ultimate responsibility on foreign coach Yuriy Ogordonik and the SAI, there are several references in the order which confirm that the athletes had been consuming substances arranged by the federation, but apparently not cleared by the SAI.
A SAI enquiry report, quoted in the order, states: “Dr. (Manabendra) Bhattacharjee (in charge of NIS Medical Centre) also informed that the athletes are reluctant to appear for the initial medical test and also they are irregular in reporting to receive food supplements.”
Dr. Bhattacharjee admitted there was a shortage of approved supplements but from April last, on a selective basis, the supplements were issued to various teams.
There is also a reference to the foreign coach having brought supplements from London before the Commonwealth Games. The question that naturally comes up, was Ogordonik authorised by the SAI to bring in supplements from abroad? Was the SAI aware of the goings on in camps?