Monika Devi gave a written submission to the Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel, admitting the use of a drug that she claimed had caused the ‘positive’ test in June, 2008, but retracted her statement at the end of Tuesday’s hearing.
The Manipur weightlifter who hit the headlines in August, 2008 when she was barred from proceeding to Beijing for the Olympic Games, sought time to bring corroborative evidence to support her claim.
Confronted with the demand from panel chairman Sudhir Nandrajog that he gets the doctor to depose before the panel, apart from an affidavit confirming the line of treatment and medication, her lawyer, Ramesh Kumar, decided to withdraw the unsigned submission at least for the time being.
The weightlifter who had initially alleged sabotage by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), forcing the Union Government to appoint an enquiry commission and order a CBI probe, stated in her submission, since withdrawn, that she was prepared to accept the findings of the WADA-accredited laboratory in Tokyo which tested her ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples.
The laboratory reported findings of testosterone metabolites and precursors.
Monika argued in her submission that she had been prescribed a drug (norethisterone) for a gynaecological condition in January, 2008 and that could have caused the ‘positive’ test in June that year that eventually prevented her participation in the Olympics.
She stated that she had taken no substance to enhance her performance and the panel may either reprieve her or reduce any possible sanctions against her in order to enable her to participate in the Commonwealth Games in October.
In order to do that she had to participate in the National championships beginning in Udaipur on February 21, she told the panel.
Former Asian badminton champion Dinesh Khanna replaced athlete Kamaljeet Sandhu, who has gone abroad, in the panel in an effort to avoid further delay in the proceedings. The third member of the panel is Dr. Vikas Ahluwalia.
Monika had one prescription for the drug, advising her to take the medication for three days. She claimed she had made a second visit to the doctor in February 2008 when also she was advised to take the same drug, but she did not have a prescription for that period.
Asked whether her gynaecological condition had improved in recent times, she first answered in the affirmative and then said that she did have recurring problems.
Ramesh Kumar stated that she had been taking the medicine “intermittently”.
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which brought the case before the panel pointed out that she did not have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use the drug.
Drug not listed
On questioning Monika also admitted that she did not list the drug in her doping control form.
Repeatedly during Tuesday’s hearing, June, 2008 was being mentioned as the possible date for the commencement of her suspension, if her plea for exoneration failed.
NADA rules (2008), however, state that the period of ineligibility will begin from the date of the hearing decision, with any period of provisional suspension, whether imposed or voluntarily accepted, being credited against the total period of suspension.
If there had been delays, “not attributable to the athlete”, the panel may start the period earlier “commencing as early as the date of sample collection.”
Monika was exonerated by a panel set up by the Indian Weightlifting Federation on August 9, 2008.
There has so far been no evidence put forward by the federation to suggest that there had been a provisional suspension following the January, 2009 ‘positives’ reported by the Tokyo laboratory.