SPORT

An ignorant federation crucifies Khatri

K.P. Mohan

NEW DELHI: Wrestler Mukesh Khatri has been declared guilty of a doping violation even before a trial!

Worse, if the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Assistant Secretary, Rajender Gulia, is to be believed, Khatri has been banned for two years while, at best, he can only be banned for a maximum of one year for the offence in question. Quite possibly, he can walk away with a mere `warning'.

The reaction of the WFI shows how ignorant even the federations are in our country about doping and allied topics. And everyone keeps talking about the need to educate athletes and coaches!

Khatri tested positive for the masking agent probenecid in a pre-departure test for the Commonwealth championships at Cape Town last month. He would have been stopped from proceeding, but the report from the Dope Control Centre (DCC) was late in coming. Khatri went on to win a bronze in Cape Town, was tested there, according to WFI sources, and came out `clean'.

The WFI, acting on a delayed intimation from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has rushed in to suspend Khatri even before his `B' sample test has been conducted or he has waived his right to have such a test.

He has to be given a hearing before any action is initiated against him though a provisional suspension can be imposed if the `B' test also turns up positive.

Should the WFI initiate proper proceedings against him, Khatri is on safe ground. For, probenecid is a `specified substance' under the World Anti Doping Agency's prohibited list. `Specified substances' are such substances that could be particularly susceptible to unintentional doping and have been classified separately for milder sanctions.

WADA Code

The relevant WADA Code rule for sanctions for a `specified substance' states that in case the athlete can establish that it was not intended to enhance performance, the punishment would be the following:

"First violation: At a minimum a warning and reprimand and no period of ineligibility from future events, and, at a maximum, one year's ineligibility.

Second violation: two years ineligibility. Third violation: lifetime ineligibility."

Khatri is learnt to have been prescribed a medication by a doctor in Pune, following a motorbike accident during the camp at Aurangabad, prior to the Commonwealth championships.

That medication contained a combination of antibiotics and probenecid. He was taken to the doctor by none other than the WFI Secretary-General, Balasaheb Landge!

Though there is no easy way out under doping rules to say "I didn't know" or "my doctor didn't know", Khatri will have a convincing argument as the substance comes under the `specified' category. Moreover, he has a prescription from the doctor and the WFI Secretary happened to be the official who took him to the particular doctor.

Neelam case

In the meantime, it is now known that discus thrower Neelam J. Singh, facing a suspension

following a positive test for a stimulant at the World championships in Helsinki, did not undergo the mandatory pre-departure test at the DCC. She was expected to provide the sample for the test at the SAI Medical Centre on July 28, a day before her departure, but failed to report.

This is not the first time that a report had been delayed, as in the case of Khatri, or an athlete had left without a test, as in Neelam's case.

The entire batch of athletes training in Ukraine had gone from Kiev to Athens last year for the Olympics without fulfilling the government's stipulation, though they might have been tested at home during the preceding months. Several other sportspersons, mainly those training abroad at that time, were also not tested.

The pre-departure test report on weightlifter Krishnan Madasamy, who turned in a positive at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, was not forwarded in time to the authorities in order to prevent his participation.

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