CHENNAI: In an interesting turn of events, javelin thrower Shivpal Singh, who tested positive for steroids Metandienone and metabolites in 2021 and was banned for four years by the National Anti Doping Agency's disciplinary panel, is free to compete this season.
The latest update on the NADA website says that the Anti-Doping Appeal Panel has reduced the ban to one year with effect from 21-10-21. This means Shivpal can be part of a national camp and can compete in national and international events as well. Shivpal, one of the top javelin throwers in the country was dropped from the national camp after testing positive in October 2021.
The appeals panel has accepted his explanation that the supplement he had taken was contaminated. The 'appellant' (Shivpal Singh) was represented by advocates Vidushpat Singhania and Parth Goswami, both experts in cases related to sports.
According to the ADAP document, Shivpal argued that "the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) was not intentional rather it occurred due to consumption of fake/contaminated supplement, namely, Prime Testo Booster, which was duly disclosed by him in the doping control form at the time of testing."
Interestingly, the thrower is experienced and has been part of the national camp for quite some time. He said that the supplement he had purchased from Herbal Power Pharmacy was contaminated which resulted in his positive test.
"The supplement store was later found to be involved in the sale of contaminated supplements and an FIR dated 06.10.2021 has been registered against the said retailer for being engaged in the sale of contaminated supplements," said the ADAP order.
The athlete also argued that he "exercised due care and caution before taking the supplement, he checked the label and certifications of the supplement and after verifying that the supplement does not contain any prohibited substance he added the supplement to his diet." In fact, it was procured and given to him by a coach and the athlete had been insisting that it was because of the supplement that he tested positive.
Going by the order, the supplement was taken to National Anti-Doping Laboratory for testing too. "The supplement was in fact found to be contaminated with ‘Metandienone’ by the NDTL upon testing at the instance of the Applicant," said the order.
The lawyers also pointed out that an FIR has been filed against Herbal Power Pharmacy for selling contaminated supplements.
"It was submitted that the Appellant may be given the benefit of Article 10.6.1.2 as the supplement was contaminated. It was also submitted that the Appellant may also be given the benefit of substantial assistance under Article 10.7 as his complaint led to the filing of FIR and caution letter by UP Athletics Association," said the order.
Singhania also said that the athlete suffered because of spurious supplements and authorities must ensure to curb such menace.
Besides other arguments, a couple of points in the order seemed interesting. It has even blamed NADA for not issuing detailed advisories. "However, considering the number of fake supplements available in the market and the risks associated with it, we feel that NADA should have issued detailed advisories to all concerned to be extra cautious in choosing and intaking the supplement. We also note that NADA has not placed on record any steps taken by it to curb spurious supplements in the market which is directly affecting efforts to control doping in sport," said the order.
The panel of Abhinav Mukerji, Vivek Singh and Prashanti Singh reduced Shivpal's ban saying, "We, therefore, sanction 01 year of ineligibility upon the Appellant based upon the normal degree of fault under Article 10.6.1.2. The Appellant is advised to be extra-cautious and exercise due diligence before consuming any supplement in the future. The Appeal is hereby allowed and the order dated 16.08.22 in Case No. 209.ADDP.2021 passed by Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel is set aside."
"We also direct NADA to take steps proactively and to collaborate in an active way with appropriate regulatory agencies to prosecute and curb the menace of fake/contaminated supplements in the market," the panel said.
It needs to be seen if NADA or World Anti-Doping Agency would challenge the reduced ban. There have been occasions when NADA reduced bans and it was overturned in the Court of Arbitrations.