Three sportsmen, who turned in ‘positive' dope tests during the last National Games in Ranchi, were recently suspended for two years by the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel (NADDP).

All three, boxers Dilbag Singh and Praveen Kumar, and cyclist Vikram Duhan, had tested positive for stimulant methylhexaneamine (MHA). The three had taken identical pleas, that they had consumed supplements that contained MHA though it was not listed on the package.

The substance actually listed, they argued through their counsel, was geranium root extract, which was not mentioned in the 2011 Prohibited List and thus they should not be held responsible.

Interestingly, for the first time since it started hearing doping cases in 2009, the NADDP was split in its verdict on a final award. All three decisions were given on a 2-1 majority.

The panel chairman, Dinesh Dayal, and former badminton international Dinesh Khanna ruled that the athletes had sought to hide behind the argument about supplements only as an “afterthought.”

They pointed out that the three had not mentioned the supplements at the time of sample collection or during the ‘initial review'.

The two panel members were of the view that the athletes had attempted to derive benefit from the UK Anti Doping v Steven Dooler case of 2010 in which the rugby player after testing positive for MHA was able to establish that a supplement (Extreme Nox Pump) he took had been contaminated by MHA. He thus gained a reduced sanction of four months.

Dilbag listed San Launch as the supplement he consumed; Praveen CRXCUT while Duhan said he had taken Nox Pump. The majority decision also pointed out that the situations differed considerably from August, 2010, when the British rugby player tested positive, to February, 2011, when the three Indian athletes were tested. By 2011, they said, geranium root extract was well known as a source of MHA.

(Later research has, however, questioned the claim that geranium contains MHA, though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) mentions geranium as a possible synonym for MHA in its ‘summary of modifications' in the 2012 Prohibited List.)

The third member of the panel, Dr. P.S.M. Chandran, differed with the majority opinion and stated that the athletes had established how the banned substance entered their systems and deserved a lenient punishment. He, accordingly, ruled in favour of a reduced sanction though without specifying the period.

All three were eventually suspended for two years from the date of decision (Jan 13), with the proviso that the period of provisional suspensions imposed by the concerned federations would be credited against their names.

MHA does not carry provisional suspension under the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) rules. None was imposed by the NADA in the three cases. Yet, the panel took note of the provisional suspensions imposed by the federations.

Keywords: NADAWADAdoping

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