CHENNAI: In what could be more embarrassment for India’s athletics fraternity, another of the medallists at the recent Asian Athletics Championships has found herself under provisional suspension for failing a dope test.
Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the independent management authority for IAAF’s integrity programmes, announced on their website on Friday that long-distance runner Sanjeevani Jadhav was now under provisional suspension after testing positive for Probenecid, a masking agent.
Jadhav had recently been in the news for winning a 10,000m bronze medal at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in April. She had clocked her personal best at the event. Incidentally, even Gomathi Marimuthu, the gold medallist in the 800m at the same event, also clocked her personal best and she too was banned for testing positive for an anabolic-androgenic steroid.
Though there is nothing official on this yet, it is learnt that her samples were collected during the inter-state athletics meet in Guwahati last year. It had been reported that five athletes including sprinter Nirmala Sheoran had failed tests in October 2018 and Sanjeevani’s name had figured in that list.
The samples of these athletes reportedly first tested negative at the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in New Delhi before being sent to a WADA-accredited lab in Montreal where they tested positive. According to AFI sources, Sanjeevani was reportedly given the option of a voluntary suspension, but she chose not to take it, maintaining her innocence.
What is intriguing is that the provisional suspension had taken this long to come. According to experts, this may be because Probenecid comes under specified substances in WADA’s prohibited list. Unlike steroids or prohibited methods, athletes testing positive for substances are not issued an immediate provisional suspension. “Before a Provisional Suspension can be unilaterally imposed by an Anti-Doping Organization, the internal review specified in the Code must first be completed.
In addition, the Signatory imposing a Provisional Suspension shall ensure that the Athlete is given an opportunity for a Provisional Hearing either before or promptly after the imposition of the Provisional Suspension, or an expedited final hearing under Article 8 promptly after imposition of the Provisional Suspension,” WADA’s Anti-Doping Code says.
“Another reason for this could be because the samples were tested in two different labs and they had to then re-test and reconfirm the results,” said sports scientist Ashok Ahuja.
Jadhav’s suspension started on June 19. Despite news of her failing a dope test filtering in as far back as October, no suspension had been enforced on Jadhav until now, which means she was fully within her rights to compete at the Asian meet.
It is not clear whether her results prior to the start of suspension and after the collection of the sample will be nullified. If her results are nullified, she will lose the bronze medal that she won at the Asian meet.