Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has indicated to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) that it was prepared to initiate action in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if the discrepancy over the suspension period of three Indian athletes for doping offences reported in February this year was not resolved.

The IAAF communication on Wednesday, the second in less than a month on the suspension issue of Police athletes Harbhajan Singh, Avtar Singh and Gurdev Singh, has brought to light once again the contradictions that exist in the anti-doping system despite efforts during the past several years to harmonise rules.

The IAAF has pointed out to the AFI that since the latter had delegated powers to the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) any decision taken by the NADA or its panel would be considered as the decision of the National federation itself.

The IAAF wants the AFI to ensure that the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel strictly applies the IAAF anti-doping rules, and not that of the WADA, while dealing with the cases of the athletes.

“The panel will strictly follow NADA rules and the WADA Code,” said the NADA Director-General, Rahul Bhatnagar, when his attention was drawn to the IAAF contention on Thursday. He, however, said that he was willing to discuss the matter with the disciplinary panel chairman to resolve the issue if that was possible.

In an earlier communication, the IAAF had informed the AFI that, as per its rules, suspension could only start from the date of the decision on sanctions or from the date of provisional suspension. Copies of the IAAF letters have been forwarded to the NADA also.

The disciplinary panel has applied a rule from the 2009 WADA Code to show some leniency to the three athletes even though the NADA is yet to incorporate the revised Code in its document.

The three athletes were suspended from the date of sample collection, without having been subjected to a provisional suspension.

The IAAF rules, whether old or revised, do not support a period of suspension from sample collection date unless the athlete makes a timely admission to an anti-doping rule violation at the preliminary enquiry stage.

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