In a rare occurrence, a witness produced by the defence counsel in the Saurabh Vij anti-doping rule violation case for steroids admitted on Wednesday that he had ‘sabotaged’ the fruit juice of the shot putter out of ‘jealousy’ and ‘ill-feeling’. Ajay Lamba, the prime witness and a shot putter himself, admitted before the R.S. Chauhan-headed NADA disciplinary panel that he was aiming to win the gold medal in the Indian Grand Prix in April last year, and found Vij as his biggest hurdle.
“I wanted to win the gold medal in the Indian GP because I had not won a gold medal (before)… I had never participated in any National (level) event like the Indian GP,” said Lamba during the cross examination by Rahul Kumar, the NADA counsel on Wednesday.
Vij, who won the Indian GP gold medal with a 19.80m put ahead of Navin Kumar (13.18m), said he had never competed with Lamba except at the Indian GP selection trials.
Lamba had indicated that he was capable of achieving a mark of around 13m. Lamba, who claimed that he could not read or write English, claimed that at least four or five persons, to his knowledge, used steroids at the gym where he and Vij used to train. He said he knew that Andriol Testocap, a yellow-coloured gel capsule, contained steroid and was available at a nearby chemist, from where he purchased two packets of 10 capsules each for Rs.370.
Lamba, who said that Vij was ‘rude’ and ‘harsh’ towards him, sensationally revealed that he first mixed the capsules with warm water and poured the solution into Vij’s fruit juice at a juice shop frequented by them. “On that day (towards the end of March 2012), when Om Prakash (a worker at the shop) placed three glasses of juice on the counter, I, along with Vij and Harjit Singh Sabherwal (a common friend at the gym), were standing there. Vij put his mobile phone on the counter and, seeing an opportunity, I dropped his cell phone. When he bent down to pick up his phone, I mixed the steroid in his juice.”
Lamba, who claimed that he had never consumed Andriol Testocap, said he first got to know of the details about anti-doping proceedings against Vij, who is also serving a two-year suspension for a methylehexaneamine violation, from Harjit towards the end of July last year. “When I learnt about the cases against Vij and that he could be banned for life, I realised my mistake.”
Lamba said he was aware that he had violated the NADA code by ‘sabotaging’ Vij’s drink, but did not know about its consequences. Harjit also said that the use of steroids in their gym was a ‘common’ practice.
The case will be heard again on July 12.