The first two-year suspension for a methylhexaneamine (MHA) charge was ordered on Wednesday against taekwondo player Jitendra Verma.
Also to be suspended for two years on a charge of cannabinoids use was Mumbai FC player Nishant Mehra, who tested positive after an I-League match at Pune in January last.
It is a bitter blow to a young footballer, who, if he had managed to explain how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) got into his body, might have got away with a three-month or four-month suspension.
While suspending Verma for two years for a first offence, the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel on Wednesday sent a message across to MHA offenders that they should not expect any leniency without coming forward with a credible explanation.
This is the second MHA case, out of 23 ‘positives' returned for this ‘specified' stimulant in less than one year, that has resulted in a suspension. Last November, weightlifter Sanamacha Chanu was banned for eight years following an MHA violation which happened to be her second offence.
The hope that athletes would be able to get away with a mere warning or a few months suspension, possible under the rules, has been dashed by the latest decision of the Dinesh Dayal-headed disciplinary panel, which also had Dr P.S.M. Chandran and former badminton international Dinesh Khanna as its members.
A release from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) stated that Verma, who was a bronze winner at the National Games, would be disqualified “with all the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”
Verma's case had taken a few twists and turns in that his initial dope test report also mentioned a finding of testosterone. The laboratory was unable to confirm that because of “insufficient volume” of the urine sample.
On NADA's advice, following a communication from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the laboratory ‘split' the ‘B' sample into two and carried out confirmation tests for a testosterone ‘positive' and submitted a supplementary report.
Verma refused to accept the findings since the ‘B' sample bottle was not re-sealed in his presence. And the panel not only agreed with Verma's contention, but also pointed out that once ‘A' and ‘B' sample bottles were opened and a ‘positive' reported, those bottles could only be sent for research purposes, with the consent of the athlete, or disposed of as per rules.
Mehra was given an opportunity to explain how THC got into his body. He had very little to offer by way of a convincing argument to prove how the substance got into his system.