After an initial delay, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has informed the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) about the ‘positive' test returned by former India goalkeeper Adrian D' Souza in the recent World Series Hockey (WSH).
The NADA had initially informed Hockey India (HI) in its communication dated April 11, but amended its records without much delay to rope in the IHF as the body responsible for relaying the information to the player concerned.
Thanks to a ‘leak' that saw the NADA communication being circulated to several media offices, an impression has been created that the NADA had actually issued a release following the receipt of the ‘A' sample result.
That did not happen. Speculation is rife about the parties that might have triggered the ‘leak'.
To put the record straight, however, even if the NADA had announced the ‘positive', say three days later, it would not have been in breach of its own rules or that of the WADA Code.
Rules stipulate that the NADA “may” publicly disclose the name only after notice has been provided to the athlete.
It has to also complete an administrative review of the result to ensure that there was no TUE (therapeutic use exemption) granted to the athlete.
It also has to see whether there had been any apparent departure from testing standards.
Notice could be posted to the athlete's address and the NADA could wait for three working days before considering the notice as served.
There is no necessity for the NADA to wait for the ‘B' sample result to announce an adverse analytical finding of the ‘A' sample.
In D' Souza's case, tetrahydrocarbinol (THC), a metabolite of marijuana, being a ‘specified substance' there has been no provisional suspension.
The duplicity in administration of hockey in the country, as was expected, should cause some problem in dealing with a doping case.
Since the IHF is a Government-recognised federation, the NADA has a foothold but what happens when a player is suspended?
Can the IHF enforce such a suspension at the international level? Will the international federation (FIH) take that into account?
It is also a moot point whether the NADA had retained the IHF when the government gave conditional recognition to HI (later withdrawn) and it would also be of relevance how the NADA has dealt with a recent case of doping in women's hockey if HI is not a recognised unit. That possibly none of the federations barring the Indian Weightlifting Federation has incorporated the rules, at least with a cross-reference its rules, should help settle the argument that in India rules can be bent as long as such procedures are not challenged in a court of law.
The NADA and the Government have continued to overlook the necessity for the federations to incorporate the NADA rules into their constitutions by the mere argument that the notification regarding the setting up of the NADA was gazetted in 2008 and there was a “deemed acceptance” of the same.
D' Souza, in the meantime, can take solace from the fact that generally a cannabis violation attracts a suspension of two to four months the world over if the guilt is accepted or the presence of the banned substance in the body is explained.
A two-year suspension, though very rare, can come about if there is no credible explanation. In the US and Britain athletes are serving one-year suspensions even for a second cannabis offence.
Meanwhile, the WSH Technical Director, Dennis Meredith, said in a statement on Saturday that as per Article 15 of the NADA rules, information on the identity of the player was confidential and could only be made public after all procedures were completed.