Davinder in marijuana trouble

Javelin thrower Davinder Singh has tested positive for marijuana, a recreational drug. The Punjab athlete’s urine sample had been taken during the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi on May 15.

Davinder had been in the best form of his life in the last few weeks, coming up with throws of 84.57m (personal best, May 7, Patiala IGP, that easily bettered the London Worlds’ entry standard of 83m) and in the Federation Cup early this month (83.82m, also in Patiala).

He has hit an amazing high this season, improving his personal best by more than four metres, and more importantly, booking a ticket to the coming World Championships a few weeks ago. Still, the news of javelin thrower Davinder Singh failing a drug test shocked many.

The surprise was not that Davinder had failed a test but because he had tested positive for marijuana, a recreational drug. The Punjab athlete’s urine sample had been taken during the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi on May 15.

Debate has been on for years whether recreational drugs help improve performance and many feel that they don’t. Still, there is a school which believes that the euphoric effect the drug produces and the ability to increase alertness for short spells could aid performance.
But the fact is, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned all recreational drugs and hence the 28-year-old could be in a lot of trouble.

NO PROVISIONAL SUSPENSION

However, there is no provisional suspension for cannabinoids (marijuana) since it is a ‘specified substance’ and if selected, Davinder could compete in the Asian Championships which begin in Bhubaneswar on July 6.

But unless he is completely exonerated or if he is let off with a reprimand, his result in the Asians is likely to be affected, which could mean that the Athletics Federation of India would not risk fielding him in the team.

SIX PREVIOUS CASES

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has had six previous cases of cannabinoids use in the past, including that of former India hockey goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza who tested positive for marijuana in 2012, and suspensions ranged from three months to two years under the 2009 code.

It could go to four years, under the 2015 code, if NADA could prove that the athlete took it intentionally.  It could get reduced to two years in case it is established that he had committed “no significant fault or negligence”. And if there is “no fault or negligence”, he may even get off with a warning.

Davinder had been in the best form of his life in the last few weeks, coming up with throws of 84.57m (personal best, May 7, Patiala IGP, that easily bettered the London Worlds’ entry standard of 83m) and in the Federation Cup early this month (83.82m, also in Patiala).

INTENSE RIVALRY

And many felt that his intense rivalry with the under-20 World champion Neeraj Chopra would do the sport a world of good. 
But Gary Calvert, who coached Neeraj Chopra to the under-20 World record and gold before leaving for China, had his doubts about Davinder. 
“Davinder is questionable. My biggest issue is Davinder has avoided being in the National camp and hence there is no drug testing,” said Gary in a recent chat with Sportstar from Beijing.

And like last year, questions are being raised about Haryana quartermiler Nirmala Sheoran whose stunning time (51.28s) in the recent Federation Cup saw her qualify for the London Worlds.

Nirmala trained outside the national camp but after a recent AFI warning that athletes who do not attend the national camp would not be cleared for the Asians and the Worlds, she joined the Patiala camp a couple of days ago.