Quarter-milers Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu may not be able to complete reinstatement testing formalities to be eligible to compete in an effort to qualify for the London Olympics, either in the individual 400 metres or in the longer relay.
Unless they also appeal, like four other runners have done, and gain either surprise exoneration or get their one-year suspension reduced further, Mandeep and Murmu could be returning to competition only after July 8, the last date for Olympic qualification in individual events.
The relay deadline is July 2.
Being ‘international level athletes' at the time of testing, Mandeep and Murmu would be able to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) only.
They would also be expected to go through four reinstatement tests, the last one immediately prior to the end of suspension being for the full range of banned substances.
There should be a three-month gap between each test. A test conducted by a legitimate anti-doping authority could be considered for the purpose of reinstatement. Otherwise, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) would be responsible for the tests, with the costs being borne by the athletes.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI), on behalf of the IAAF, would be in charge of reinstatement tests to be done by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in the case of Mandeep and Murmu. The process is yet to start. At best, it could start on Monday or Tuesday.
If a three-month gap is to be kept for the first three tests, it would be seen that the last one can be completed only on July 7 or 8 (not in June as was mentioned in an earlier report). Then there will have to be a final test for the full range of substances prior to re-entry.
Unless the IAAF relaxes its rule about the three-month gap, there looks little chance for Mandeep or Murmu to return to competition in time for Olympic qualification.
IAAF sources said on Friday that such a relaxation normally was granted only in a two-year suspension case.
As for the other four athletes, the four-test reinstatement procedure is not a mandatory requirement. But the AFI had been conducting four tests in all domestic doping cases and any relaxation in this instance may look opportunistic if not biased.
There is also a strong possibility of the IAAF taking the Mandeep-Murmu case to the CAS and seeking a minimum two-year ban.
The IAAF has sought details of the disciplinary panel proceedings, including test reports and other supporting documents from the NADA, to review the case before taking a decision.
It is not necessary of course that any of the suspended athletes should go through relay qualification races to be eligible to compete in the Olympics. Only the team has to qualify and it could then be up to the AFI to pick its members.
The AFI is expected to stick to the standard criterion of the top six 400m runners making the team, though it has a history of arranging last-minute trials.
No one expects a second-string Indian relay team to make the top-16 grade in the world. For that matter, there is scepticism about the team's qualification chances even if all the suspended athletes were to return in time.
If any of the suspended athletes make it back into the team in time for the Asian All-Stars meet to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 29 and 30, they may get their last opportunity to help the team qualify.
The last chance for individual Olympic aspirants at home will come during the National inter-State meet in Hyderabad from June 23 to 26.
Keywords: London Olympics