The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has appealed in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Lausanne, against the one-year suspensions imposed by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) on 400m runners Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu.

The IAAF is seeking an enhancement of the sanction to a minimum two years on the two athletes, who had tested positive for steroids, along with four other female 400m runners, last June-July. These two had returned ‘positive' results in tests conducted by the IAAF.

The National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel had ordered one-year suspensions last December for all the six athletes, on the argument that there was “no significant fault or negligence” on their part in consuming the ginseng provided by the foreign coach that, according to it, eventually led to the ‘positive' tests. Normally, steroid use attracts a two-year suspension.

The other four athletes — Ashwini A.C., Sini Jose, Priyanka Panwar and Tiana Mary Thomas — had appealed to the National Anti-Doping Appeal panel (NADAP) for reduction of their suspensions, while the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) had filed a counter appeal seeking enhancement of suspension.

The decision has been reserved by the panel and it is expected to be announced in about a week's time.

Stay in proceedings

Pending the decision by the NADAP, the IAAF has sought a stay of the proceedings in the CAS in the Mandeep-Murmu case. The respondents in the IAAF appeal are the athletes and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

It is expected that the IAAF or the WADA would appeal to the CAS in respect of the other four athletes also in case the NADAP upholds the one-year suspension or reduces it. The WADA had argued before the NADAP that the athletes were negligent in taking a substance, purportedly purchased by their coach from China, without verifying the integrity of the product especially when the label was in Chinese. It said they did not even make an effort to conduct an internet research on the substance.

All the six athletes were preparing the past few months towards competing in the Olympics and some of them were hoping for a return in time to run a couple of 4x400m relay Olympic qualification races before the July 2 deadline. The IAAF move may have queered the pitch for the athletes' Olympic hopes.