Confusion prevailed on Friday in the Saurabh Vij anti-doping rule violation case for steroid as to whether the present case before the R.S. Chauhan-headed National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) disciplinary panel should be treated as his second offence.
Vij, along with 10 other athletes, had been handed a two-year suspension in a Methylehexanemine (MHA) violation case in May last year. All the athletes, including Vij, have approached the appeal panel against the decision and their cases are pending.
Continuing with the sabotage theory, defence lawyers Jitender Tyagi and Rohit Kaliyar, on Friday, argued that the shot-putter’s fruit juice had been spiked by fellow athlete Ajay Lamba and Vij was not at fault for testing positive for steroid.
In the last hearing, prime witness Lamba — who had never participated in a National level competition — had said that he wanted to win a gold medal at the Indian Grand Prix and Vij, who used to be ‘rude and harsh’ towards him, was the only obstacle.
Lamba participated in the trials for the Indian GP, but did not compete in the event itself.
According to the operational part of Article 10.5.1 of NADA Code, dealing with No Fault or Negligence, the sanction could be eliminated if an athlete could prove that despite all due care, he or she was sabotaged by a competitor.
While the defence counsel tried to prove that Lamba was Vij’s competitor (on the grounds that both participated in the selection trials for the Indian GP), the prosecution lawyer contended citing Lamba’s cross examination where he had admitted he never competed with Vij.
The prosecution also argued that since Lamba was angry with Vij, he could not be considered a close associate of the athlete. Besides, the prosecution said that there was no proof Lamba actually purchased the medicine (Andriol Testocap), which he claimed to have mixed with Vij’s juice.
However, the biggest point of debate was, in case Vij was held guilty, whether this should be treated as his second offence (which would attract a longer period of ineligibility). Chairman Chauhan did not agree with the prosecution’s argument that the MHA violation case, pending before the appeal panel, should be considered as Vij’s first offence.
Chauhan said what would happen in case the disciplinary panel handed a longer period of sanction to Vij for steroid violation (considering that it is the second violation) and then the appeal panel exonerated the athlete from MHA violation. He suggested that clarity should be sought from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on this issue.