Quartermiler-turned-shot putter P. Udaya Laxmi has been suspended for two years for testing positive for methylhexanemine (MHA).

Passing the order on Thursday, the National Anti-Doping Agency disciplinary panel, headed by Dinesh Dayal, said the athlete had not been able to establish how the banned substance had entered her body and could thus not get any reduction in sanction under Article 10.4 of the NADA Code.

Udaya Laxmi, who had tested positive at the National inter-state athletics meet in Chennai last June, had hinted that the use of mustard oil and other oils during massage might have resulted in the positive test.

The NADA panel did not admit her claim and held her guilty of the anti-doping rule violation, and handed Udaya Laxmi a two-year suspension under Article 10.2. However, the panel noted that the hearing and decision were unduly delayed “for want of records regarding the alleged first anti-doping rule violation by the athlete. NADA should have completed all investigations before referring the assertions of anti-doping rule violation to the disciplinary panel.”

Stating that the delay in the decision could not be attributed to the athlete, the disciplinary panel said the period of ineligibility, which normally starts from the date of decision, would start from November 20, 2013, when the athlete first appeared before the panel.

The panel mentioned how Udaya Laxmi, then a 400m runner, had tested positive for a banned substance (nandrolone) at the Hyderabad National Games in 2002 and detailed the sequence of events following it in the pre-NADA days.

The hearing panel observed that “the urine sample of the athlete collected during the National Games in 2002 at Hyderabad resulted in the positive findings for anabolic steroid but the final order/decision, if any taken, in the matter was not available on the file.”

No sanctions imposed

Referring to a letter received from the Athletics Federation of India on February 24, the panel said, “This letter shows, as per the available records, no sanctions were imposed by the AFI as the ‘B’ sample of the athlete could not be analysed despite repeated requests to ED (Teams), Sports Authority of India, and Director (Technical) Indian Olympic Association.”

Thus, purely from the point of view of penalising the athlete, the panel considered the MHA violation as her first offence and decided to suspend her for two years.

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