CHENNAI: JUST a few months ago, boxer Neeraj Phogat had made headlines by beating a world champ in an international meet in Russia. Authorities were so impressed that the 57kg pugilist was inducted in the sports ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). The future seemed bright for the 25-year-old and she was a strong contender to be part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics contingent.
How things change! Now, Neeraj’s future seems to be in tatters after it was announced by the National Anti-Doping Association (NADA) that she has been provisionally suspended for failing a dope test. Neeraj, who hails from Charkhi Dadri in Haryana, has tested positive for ‘Ligandrol and other anabolic steroids’.
According to a NADA statement, her sample was collected at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in New Delhi on September 24 and tested at Qatar’s anti-doping lab, which revealed its findings last month. “As per the adverse analytical finding report dt. 03/11/2019 received from Anti-Doping Lab, Qatar, Ms Neeraj was found positive for the presence of LGD-4033 (Ligandrol), Other Anabolic Agents (S1 ‘ WADA Prohibited List 2019),” the National Anti-Doping Agency stated.
“Ms Neeraj was notified by NADA by issuing a notice of charge for violation of Anti-Doping Rules 2015 of NADA and suspended provisionally w.e.f 13/11/2019,” it added.
Neeraj has accepted the findings and has opted out of the ‘B’ sample testing. She will now go before a disciplinary panel and is staring at a possible ban of 2-4 years.
“As requested by her, case of Ms Neeraj is referred to the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel for an expedited hearing,” NADA stated.
Apart from her golden return in Russia where she shocked 2016 world champ Alessia Mesiano in the semis, Neeraj had captured a bronze medal at the prestigious Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria and had also punched her way to gold in the India Open in Guwahati.
Those hits had propelled her into the main squad for the World Championships which was held in Russia in October. Even though she couldn’t replicate her form on the big stage — she lost by a split decision in Rd 1 — she was tipped to bounce back.