Arguments were completed and the order reserved in the doping cases involving six top woman quarter-milers of the country during the hearing before a National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel here on Friday.
The six athletes, Mandeep Kaur, Ashwini A. C., Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar, are facing charges of steroid abuse. They tested positive last May and June during in-competition and out-of-competition tests conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The athletes have pleaded that they consumed ginseng bought by the foreign coach, Yuriy Ogorodonik, from Guangzhou, China in November last year and that led to the ‘positive' tests.
Among a batch of six supplements purportedly collected from the athletes and tested by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), one turned up ‘positive' for steroids stanozolol and methandienone. While stanozolol was found only in the urine samples of Mandeep and Tiana, all six had tested positive for methandienone.
The prosecution contended on Friday that under the Code there could be no complete exoneration on the argument of using supplements and they turning out to be contaminated.
It further argued that even if “no significant fault or negligence” clause was applied in order to seek a reduction in sanction, no grounds were prepared to seek such a leniency.
The NADA contended that the athletes had not sought details of the ginseng from the coach nor did the coach have any background over the substance he had purchased.
Incidentally, the foreign coach, in his written statement, did not admit that he had given any ginseng bought from China to his wards.
But what the defence lawyer, R.K. Anand, pinned his faith on was a report by SAI putting the blame on the foreign coach apart from his argument that once an authority or a coach gave a banned substance to an athlete then the latter could not be held guilty.
The SAI has had no authority or jurisdiction to interfere with an ongoing hearing process being brought forward by the NADA and yet it felt justified in gathering supplements given by the athletes and getting them tested.
It further complicated matters by producing an internal enquiry report, a copy of which landed up with the ‘defence team' before the NADA got wind of it.
The defence lawyers even wanted the Justice Mugdal Committee report on doping to be brought in as evidence, but apparently no side seemed to have received a copy since the report is yet to be officially submitted.
Justice Mudgal, it is learnt, did not want to release his report even as a hearing process was on in the cases lest it should influence the decision of the panel.