KOCHI: There’s bad news for javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang. Traces of marijuana were found in the urine sample of the 28-year-old Punjab athlete, which makes him doubtful for the Asian and World Championship to be held in July and August, respectively.
Marijuana was added to the World Anti-doping Agency’s proscribed list in 1997, after a Canadian snow-boarder’s samples showed marijuana metabolites. However, debate over whether the material actually enhances performance raged on.
The doping watchdog in 2013 took a middle path by raising the in-competition threshold from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150. This was done to give cover to those who smoke marijuana out of competitions.
In Kang’s case, sources revealed that marijuana found in his sample had exceeded 150 nanograms, which suggests that he had used it during the competitions. However, since marijuana is a banned in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, it’s to be seen whether the athlete is booked under the act.
“Sample taken during Leg 2 of Indian GP on May 15 turned positive. He has been given a warning notice,” said a NADA source.
NADA DG Navin Agarwal confirmed that an athlete had tested positive for marijuana, but refused to reveal the name. He also said this is the first time such a case has come to his notice.
Sources close to Kang said he never used drugs consciously and was unsure how the material got into his system.
“He gave a sample in the first leg of Indian GP on May 7 where marijuana was not detected. In this competition, he threw 84.57m to earn a Worlds berth. In July first week, he again gave sample at the Federation Cup and tested negative. How come only the May 15 sample tested positive?” a source asked.
Another source said Kang might have taken bhang pakora just ahead of the event. “In some places in north India, bhang leaves (cannabis) are used in cooking. We wonder whether that was the source,” a friend of the athlete said.
An anti-doping specialist said Kang might be able to wriggle out of the case because there is debate over marijuana being treated as a performance enhancer.
“There are doctors against listing it as a banned substance. The current ban is also on the basis that marijuana use is against the spirit of sports. How long marijuana remains in the system is also a contentious topic. There have been instances where drug taken before the competition remained in the body and tested positive during in-competition examination. Even passive smokers can test positive,” he said. AFI officials were unavailable for comments on whether they would reject Kang’s continental and world event entries.