Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Monika Devi can breathe easy. Wednesday happened to be the last day for the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) or any other authority in India to appeal against the decision of the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel in handing out a two-year suspension to her, ending June 5 this year.

The disciplinary panel had based its decision on the rules of the International Weightlifting Federation as the NADA rules were not applicable at the time of her sample collection on June 6, 2008.

Even though the NADA rules prescribe only a two-year suspension, the IWF anti-doping rules, from March 2008, had stipulated a four-year suspension for first-time offenders.

Theoretically, there was thus a chance of NADA going in for appeal for a four-year ban (as per IWF rules that were applied) or to at least argue that the suspension be from January, 2009, when her samples were tested and found positive at an accredited laboratory.

WADA will still have time to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though it does not prescribe a four-year suspension for a first-time offence.

The Manipur weightlifter will now go through a re-instatement testing schedule by June to be eligible for inclusion in the core probables list for the Commonwealth Games.

The Indian Weightlifting Federation had already included her name, provisionally, in the list of core probables, pending the final resolution of her case.

Monika had tested positive for testosterone metabolites and precursors and was prevented from going to the Beijing Olympics, triggering controversy, court cases and agitations.

She eventually decided not to contest the proceedings before the disciplinary panel headed by Sudhir Nandrajog.

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