Contrary to earlier indications, one of the supplements the female 400m runners reportedly consumed had turned up ‘positive' for not just one, but two steroids.
The steroids reported by the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) were methandienone and stanozolol, both at the centre of the doping scandal that shook Indian athletics prior to the Asian championships in Kobe, Japan last July.
The presence of these two steroids in the supplement sample, claimed to have been “seized” from the athletes or submitted by the athletes, may help the six quartermilers in their defence against the doping charges they are facing.
At the same time, it does raise several important questions that could affect the cases. All six athletes, Mandeep Kaur, A.C. Ashwini, Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Priyanka Panwar and Tiana Mary Thomas, had tested positive for methandienone while only two of them — Mandeep and Tiana — had turned in a stanozolol ‘positive'.
If it could be established that the ‘positive' tests for methandienone and stanozolol for Mandeep and Tiana had come from a particular supplement then it would be difficult to prove that four other athletes who might also have consumed the same supplement returned ‘positive' tests only for methandienone.
Unless of course another supplement was submitted and had tested ‘positive' for just methandienone and it could be proved that four of the athletes somehow did not get their quota from the same batch as Mandeep and Tiana and they were given only the one containing methandienone!
Or else, the defence may be able to argue that the women had started taking the supplement in question on different dates and by the time the four were tested, the traces of stanozolol might have been washed out of the system while that of methandienone had remained.
Stanozolol, in oral and injection form, is eliminated from the bodily fluids faster than methandienone.
There is no certainty about how many supplement samples were tested, but it is learnt at least six were tested initially. There was also mention of a seventh recently.
Sources said two samples of ginseng, one ‘seized' by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) or submitted to the Justice Mudgal Committee, and one provided by Priyanka, had turned in ‘positive' tests.
The SAI submitted a report of the tests done by the NDTL to the NADA to be placed before the disciplinary panel and it was taken on record last Wednesday by the panel chairman, retired judge Dinesh Dayal. Since the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which has brought forward these cases, had not been consulted at the time of testing of supplements and it does not have any idea about which agency “seized” the supplements samples, the mystery may be solved only when the case resumes on October 5.
The prosecution was caught unawares last Wednesday when the report about the supplements was brought up. Neither the NADA nor its lawyers had any idea about the person or persons who submitted these supplements, from whom these were “seized” or the period during which these were taken into custody.
Significantly, the principal defence lawyer, R.K. Anand, seemed to be in no hurry to get a copy of the report.