A 10-year-old list containing names of athletes reported to have tested positive in dope tests conducted at a non-accredited laboratory was ordered to be released to marathoner Sunita Godara by a National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel here on Wednesday.
The panel had taken up the petition of Godara, following a 2009 Delhi High Court order. The petition seeks to re-open old cases, numbering more than 500 (according to Godara's calculations), to determine whether there was institutionalised doping and if cases were rightly handled by the authorities.
Even as it took up the petition, a unique one never before handled by a hearing panel, the Sudhir Nandrajog-headed disciplinary panel made it clear that there were several grey areas pertaining to the old cases and it was only exploring the best options available in looking into those cases.
Nandrajog ruled that Godara could go through the list, till now not open to the public since the lists were submitted to the court in sealed covers by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and in turn, nine years later, again in sealed covers to the disciplinary panel by the High Court. She was asked to bring forward any missing names at the next hearing. The list reportedly contains the names of some of the legends of Indian athletics in the 1980s and 1990s.
Co-ordinate with SAI
The panel, which included hockey Olympian Ashok Kumar and Dr N. K. Khadiya, also asked the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to co-ordinate with the SAI in completing the missing links in the reports. The case was adjourned to December 23.
The prime task before the panel is to have a complete list of names of those athletes who had tested positive between 1991 and 2008, a list of cases already handled by the federations, a list of cases where despite a ‘positive' report no action might have been taken, and the feasibility of re-opening those cases that might not have been initiated even.
Nandrajog pointed out to Godara that in his reckoning around 95 per cent cases had already been dealt with. The initial list contains names of those who tested positive between 1991 and 2000. There is no certainty about the secondary list.
In Godara's assessment as stated by her husband and counsel, Dalbir Singh, there were 257 cases between 1991 and 2000 and another 301 cases between 2001 and 2008. He told the panel that the SAI had submitted a list of only 140 athletes from among the 257 available in the original list.
Dalbir told the panel that those cases that were adjudicated could still be re-opened to see whether they were correctly handled. Nandrajog made it clear that he was unlikely to adopt such a course of action.
It would be interesting to see how many cases would become barred by the statute of limitations in the World Anti Doping Code since they would have exceeded the limitation of eight years set for commencing a doping case.
It will also be of relevance whether the panel would take up any of the cases since all of them would have been reported prior to the accreditation of the Delhi laboratory in September, 2008.
The Code stipulates that only results reported by an accredited laboratory can be acted upon. The WADA has clarified recently that “use or attempted use” of a prohibited substance can also be established through test reports given by non-accredited laboratories.