KOCHI: Shot putter Inderjeet Singh, who has been embroiled in a dope fiasco that also dashed his Rio Olympics hopes, will appear before the Natioanl Anti-Doping Agency disciplinary panel on April 19. Though this is his third hearing, the sitting has an added significance as Inderjeet will be appearing before the panel for the first time since the B sample of his June 29 test was published by the anti-doing watchdog.
The 28-year-old’s B sample test, conducted under an independent observer in January, had returned positive, paving the way for a four-year ban. However, the athlete raised objections, saying he hadn’t given permission to conduct the test due to a lack of faith in the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL), and threatened legal action for ‘breach of NADA codes’.
It is learned that the athlete’s counsel will raise this issue before the panel. “That would be the main argument that his counsel will raise during the hearing,” said a learned source. It is also expected that Inderjeet’s lawyers will question the credibility of NDTL and NADA for giving contradictory reports on the June 29 sample. While the preliminary report filed by NADA showed the sample as negative, another analytical report confirmed presence of a banned substance.
Inderjeet’s legal entourage also hinted that the third hearing might have a bearing on the final outcome. “This will be a crucial sitting because of the facts that are going to be presented,” legal sources told Express.
Meanwhile, the Punjab athlete also hoped his fight for justice would bear fruit. “Our stand has been clear. I was denied justice. Now that the hearings are on, I’m hopeful of getting a favourable verdict,” Inderjeet said.
If the disciplinary panel gives a nod to NADA’s findings, he will likely be awarded a four-year ban. In that case, sources close to the athlete said the strongman might challenge the ban in the Court of Arbirtation for Sport.
Meanwhile, Inderjeet’s training is going on unabated. The southpaw has been focusing on enhancing core strength, and he is following routines that could help him stage a comeback soon, if he gets a positive verdict. “He’s as good and fit as he was prior to Rio. Though there have been hiccups in training, he hasn’t missed gym too much. He was particularly concerned about his fitness, and has given due attention to that. If he gets a clearance soon, he’s ready to be back in action at the drop of a hat. He’s fit enough for the rigours of international competition. If the verdict is unfavourable, he’ll be working out with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” sources said.