Dope shame on Indian sport before Games
India was left red-faced on Thursday after five athletes selected for the 2010 Commonwealth Games tested positive for a banned substance called methylhexanamine.
The drug is often used to cure nasal decongestion but is also used as a stimulant by athletes.
Methylhexanamine, also sometimes called dimethylamylamine, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2009 and was placed in its prohibited list for 2010.
In all, eight athletes tested positive for the banned substance. But it was the inclusion of wrestler Rajiv Tomar's name in the dope-tainted list that shocked the sporting fraternity.
After all, Tomar received the Arjuna Award - India's second highest sporting honour after the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna - last Sunday for his string of performances in the 120 kg freestyle category.
Three other wrestlers - Sumit (74 kg category), Mausam Khatri (96 kg category) and Gursharanpreet Kaur (72 kg category) were also named in the list. All three, along with Tomar, were part of India's wrestling squad for the Commonwealth Games and were considered medal hopefuls.
MAIL TODAY has learnt from top sources that two more wrestlers - Joginder Singh and Rahul Mann - have also tested positive but were not named.
Besides these wrestlers, shot putter Saurav Vij (named in the Commonwealth Games team) and discus thrower Akash Antil have also tested positive for the same substance.
An alarmed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) held an emergency meeting in the Capital and announced the replacements for the dope-tainted grapplers. Narsingh Pancham (74 kg), Anil Mann (96 kg), Parveen (120 kg) and Anshu Tomar (72 kg) have been drafted into the wrestling team for the Games.
"We received the report from the NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) this morning that four wrestlers have tested positive for a banned substance during their selections trials on conducted on August 8 and 9," WFI president G. S. Mander said.
The men's trials were held in Sonepat (Haryana) on August 8 while the women's trials were held in Patiala (Punjab) on August 9.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) also issued a statement following a NADA communication about Saurav's and Akash's dope tests.
"As per the NADA report, athletes Saurav Vij and Akash Antil tested positive in the dope test conducted during the National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships held at Patiala from August 5 to 8," Ravinder Chaudhary, AFI officiating secretary said.
Rahul Bhatnagar, director, NADA, said the athletes are under provisional suspension and will not be allowed to take part in any of events until their ' B' samples show negative results.
"All the athletes have been suspended provisionally on September 1. It is an unfortunate situation to be in just before the Commonwealth Games," Bhatnagar said.
"The NADA has to follow the rules laid down by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The athletes will not be allowed to participate in any national or international event, including the Commonwealth Games."
WADA rules indicate that athletes that test positive are ineligible for selection for any competition and are treated to be suspended unless their 'B' sample is negative or they are exonerated after a hearing by the disciplinary panel.
Wrestling is an event in which India is expecting a rich medal haul, but these chances seem to be severely jolted by the doping revelations on Thursday. India will be competing in seven weight categories at the October 3-14 Games and there were hopes of at least 12-14 medals.
Tomar refused to comment on the revelation saying, "Right now, I do not want to say anything. Let the right time come and I shall speak."
As per the standard operating procedure, the national antidoping disciplinary panel, which is headed by a retired judge and consists of eminent sports personalities, will decide the penalty to be imposed on the tainted athletes.
Methylhexanamine is a commonly used stimulant among athletes, even though it is banned.
Last month, for instance, three Minor League Baseball players of Houston Astros team in the United States were suspended for 50 games after they tested positive for the same drug.
In the case of the Indian athletes, a source said, NADA did not conduct any random testing on the wrestlers for the last nine months. "NADA has not conducted a single random test on the wrestlers in the past nine months," a top Sports Authority of India official said. "The responsibility of conducting random dope tests was handed over to National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) about one-a-halfyear ago," said a top official within the SAI, who feels that NADA should be more proactive in conducting dope tests.
"For the last eight months not a single random test was done on these wrestlers. In fact, the only time dope tests were conducted on wrestlers was during the Asian Championships in the Capital in May. This is really shocking," the source added.
Dope shame on Indian sport before Games: Sports : India Today