NEW DELHI: The Indian Weightlifting Federation, if it has to follow the anti-doping policy of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), will have to provide a “hearing” to Satish Rai instead of simply discussing his case at its Executive Committee meeting next month.
Rai, who won the 85kg title and turned in a “positive” at the National Games in Guwahati last February, is facing a life ban since this is his second violation. He had tested positive in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games also.
The Indian federation, unable to determine the appropriate sanction since the 2002 offence involved a stimulant that attracted only a six-month suspension then, has sought advice from the IWF.
However, what is of importance in Rai’s case is he has to be given a chance to place his arguments at a hearing to be arranged by the National Federation. The Indian federation had apparently taken the stand that the lifter had already been given a hearing by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) panel headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Says the relevant IWF rule for national-level testing (12.2.1): “When it appears, following the results management process described in Article 11, that these anti-doping rules have been violated in connection with testing other than in connection with the IWF testing or testing at an international event, the athlete or other person involved shall be brought before a disciplinary panel of the athlete or other person’s National Federation for a hearing to adjudicate whether a violation of these anti-doping rules occurred and if so what consequences should be imposed.” Even if one were to argue that the IWF rules do recognise decisions taken by other bodies which are signatories to the WADA Code, the IOA decision pertained only to the disqualification and subsequent annulment of the results but not suspension since that aspect was beyond its purview.
Quite inexplicably, even the IOA panel did not go through the complete process of hearing in Rai’s case as the panel did not call him again after his ‘B’ sample tested positive. The argument was that he had already deposed before the panel prior to the ‘B’ test.
The Indian Weightlifting Federation Secretary, Balbir Singh Bhatia, said on Thursday that he would be studying the rules further to see if a hearing had to be arranged for Rai and if found necessary would be ready to meet that requirement.
The options before Rai would not be exhausted even after a hearing by the National federation since he can seek either elimination or reduction of the period of ineligibility under the exceptional circumstances rule (15.5) and still later file an appeal before an appeals panel to be set up by the Indian federation. (The final appeal will have to be filed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) instead of a national appellate body if Rai is deemed to be an “international level athlete”)
The Indian federation is being extra careful in the Rai case since the 2002 rules only imposed a two-year ban for a second offence involving a stimulant. There was no mention in the rules then of “multiple violations” involving different classes of substances.
The present rules are, however, clear. All prohibited substances other than those under “specified substances” attract two-year suspensions for a first offence and life-time ban for a second offence. A multiple violation involving a “specified substance” and any other substance gets a minimum two years and a maximum three-year suspension. Neither strychnine, the stimulant found in Rai’s urine sample in Manchester, nor stanozolol, the steroid detected in his Guwahati sample, is a “specified substance”.