There is a common thread in all doping violation cases—players claim innocence and ignorance even after positive results. More often than not, athletes manage to wrangle out of the mess on technicalities. Not because the outcome of their tests was disputed, but because there were procedural lapses. So is the case with shot putter Inderjeet Singh who failed a dope test just before the Rio Olympics and was banned for four years, as mandated by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.
Inderjeet appealed to the Anti-Doping Appeals Panel (ADAP) because there was a discrepancy in the volume of urine sample collected by the dope control officer on the sidelines of the National Athletics Championships in Hyderabad and what was received at the National Dope Testing Laboratory. Another of his samples, collected from his home in Bhiwani, was transported in a bus and preserved in the dope collection officer’s home refrigerator.
Taking cognisance of the procedural lapses, ADAP overturned his ban and the shot putter participated in a national event this February. When everything seemed hunky dory, WADA suddenly sought extension of the last date for appeal from the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS). WADA has confirmed their intention to lodge an appeal with CAS to this newspaper. Perhaps, WADA is wary of setting a precedent and letting someone who ‘tested positive’ go scot free. The agency will rely on its revised Anti-Doping Code (Article 3.2.3): “Departures from any other International Standard or other anti-doping rule or policy set forth in the Code or Anti-Doping Organization rules which did not cause an Adverse Analytical Finding or other anti-doping rule violation shall not invalidate such evidence or results.”
The anti-doping watchdog has to evolve every day and bring in changes every year. If a precedent is set, these loopholes will be exploited by athletes. In this cruel world of doping, WADA cannot take a chance. And if CAS does allow them to appeal, Inderjeet’s chances of representing India at the Tokyo Olympics will end up in smoke.