CHENNAI: In what could be a first, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has acted against a coach for administering a prohibited substance to an athlete. The NADA found athletics coach Mickey Menezes violating its Anti-Doping Rule 2021 and has banned him for four years from coaching/training. It has also fined the coach Rs. 50,000.
The coach had already been suspended by the Maharashtra Athletics Association after trainee, Kirti Bhoite, alleged he had given her a banned substance that led to a positive dope test during the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati in 2020. The New Indian Express reported the infraction in May 2022.
The NADA too initiated proceedings against the coach on May 12, 2022, for the administration of the prohibited substance to the sprinter (Kirti) and complicity (under NADA Anti-Doping Rule 2021 Article 2.8 and 2.9 — see below).
According to the order, NADA invoked clause ADR 2021, 10.3.3 and read with rule 10.12, and banned him for four years. A fine was also imposed to recover the cost associated with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).
The coach, however, did not appear before the NADA's Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) on the day of the hearing. "The hearing was attended by Yasir Arafat, a NADA law officer. The coach did not appear before the hearing panel," said the order. Menezes, however, had filed a written submission. In his reply, he said that "he (coach) has recommended supplements to the parents of the trainees and purchased those supplements for athletes on a payment basis. He (coach) has purchased supplements such as proteins, amino acids, energy drinks, and pre-workouts."
The coach said that the supplier had informed him about the new product, which "is beneficial for sprint athletes and is also completely dope free". According to the order, "he was under bonafide belief that the product was dope free". He also said he was "in shock" when he learned about Kirti's positive test.
What seems more intriguing is that the supplier then changed his statement. "The supplier said that the product gets washed out in 10 days. He also said that the product was completely dope free..." He went on to say that "he was only intending to give her supplements which are dope free and only to enhance her strength through these supplements." He said it was the fault of the supplier and "he had no intention to give a supplement which was not dope-free to Kirti or to any other athlete."
However, the ADDP comprising Dr Bikas Medhi, Charu Pragya (chairman) and Kalyan Chaubey found that his conduct was an anti-rule violation. The order said the coach is a former athlete and must be aware of anti-doping rule violations. "The ADR cast the duties on the athlete support personnel to be knowledgeable of any comply (sic) with Anti-Doping Rule."
Kirti, who was handed a four-year suspension by the ADDP, got a reduced two-year sanction after an appeal on the ground that “she has not consumed any prohibited substance intentionally, rather it was the fault of her coach”.
Interestingly, there has been a major change in the way NADA has been tracking and testing athletes this year. Top players are being tested and even hearings are getting over within three months. If they find a discrepancy in the ADDP ruling, like in the case of Asian Games gold medallist MR Poovamma, they shall appeal and get sanctions imposed. With the Anti-Doping Act in force, the NADA will have more power, especially to search and seize, but getting top athletes in its net is something positive.
NADA Anti-Doping Rule
Articles 2.8 and 2.9
2.8 Administration or Attempted Administration by an Athlete or Other Person to any Athlete In-Competition of any Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method, or Administration or Attempted Administration to any Athlete Out-of-Competition of any Prohibited Substance or any Prohibited Method that is Prohibited Out-of-Competition
2.9 Complicity or Attempted Complicity by an Athlete or Other Person
10.3.3 For violations of Article 2.7 or 2.8, the period of Ineligibility shall be a minimum of four (4) years up to lifetime Ineligibility, depending on the seriousness of the violation. An Article 2.7 or Article 2.8 violation involving a Protected Person shall be considered a particularly serious violation and, if committed by Athlete Support Personnel for violations other than for Specified Substances, shall result in lifetime Ineligibility for Athlete Support Personnel. In addition, significant violations of Article 2.7 or 2.8 which may also violate non-sporting laws and regulations, shall be reported to the competent administrative, professional or judicial