Discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur provisionally suspended after positive test for banned drug

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics announced Kamalpreet Kaur’s provisional suspension on its website on Wednesday evening.

Kaur faces the prospect of being banned for a maximum period of four years if she is found guilty.   -  REUTERS

In the biggest doping scandal to hit Indian athletics since another discus thrower Neelam Jasswant Singh tested positive in 2005, India’s Tokyo Olympic finalist Kamalpreet Kaur has tested positive and has been placed under provisional suspension. If proven, Kaur could face a suspension of up to four years.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics (WA) announced the Olympian discus thrower’s provisional suspension on its website on Wednesday evening. In an out-of-competition test conducted by AIU in India on March 29 this year, the sixth-place finisher at the Tokyo Olympics, returned a positive test for stanozolol, the steroid made famous by Canadian Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

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The AIU stated it had issued a notice of allegation. The usual process would now be gone through before a hearing is conducted if opted for by the athlete. There is a provision in the 2021 rules that provides an opportunity to the athlete to admit guilt and seek a reduction of sanction if the offence otherwise carries a four-year suspension.

Speculation had been rife the past week about a possible doping infraction by Kaur though the 26-year-old Punjab woman denied any such development and told the media that she had suffered a knee injury and had opted out of the National camp. In fact, the removal of her name from the camp had given the first hint that something could be wrong.

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From a personal best of 61.04m in 2018, Kaur had jumped to 66.59m, a national record, at Patiala last year. Then came the Tokyo Olympics and she threw 64.00m to confirm her stature in the qualifying round, though managing only 63.70m in the final for the sixth place.

Kaur competed in the Indian Grand Prix meet at Thiruvananthapuram on March 23 this year, recording a distance of 61.39m for the gold. But she skipped subsequent events.

She was included in the AIU Registered Testing Pool (RTP) in January this year and that must have put pressure on her. An RTP athlete has to provide whereabouts information on a quarterly basis to the authorities. The athlete also has to set aside an hour’s slot on a daily basis to make himself/herself available at a pre-designated place for testers to collect a sample.

With the recent positive test of Shivpal Singh, the country’s No.2 javelin thrower behind Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, and an earlier one of woman quarter-miler M. R. Poovamma, Wednesday’s development is a crushing setback for Indian athletics which had been talking of scaling greater heights post-Olympics.

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