National sprint record holder Dutee Chand has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect after testing positive for a concoction of three Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) in an out-of-competition dope-test.
In a letter dated January 3, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) informed the star Indian sprinter, a double silver medal-winner at the last Asian Games in 2018, that she tested positive from a test conducted in Bhubaneswar on December 5, 2022.
Chand, who attained international fame in 2015 following a verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in her favour in the “gender” case, was given the normal options of seeking a ‘B’ sample test and contesting any decision against her in the charge that NADA would issue in due course.
The 26-year-old Odisha sprinter faces a four-year suspension if the charge is proved at a hearing to be convened by the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP). The standard sanction for the class of substances Chand has turned in positive, ‘other anabolic agents’, is a maximum four-year suspension. If the athlete can prove “no fault or negligence” on her part in returning the positive test, she could walk free.
The athlete can also admit her offence within 20 days of the charge being issued, and receive a one-year reduction in the suspension.
If Chand pleads “no significant fault or negligence”, then the sanction could be reduced to as little as a mere “reprimand” or anything from a few months to a few years suspension.
She can accept the charge and agree to the consequences, or she can disagree with it and present her case before the ADDP. Depending on the decision of the ADDP, the athlete or NADA or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could appeal at the National level and the World Athletics (WA) and WADA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Lausanne, if there is a disagreement with the Indian appeal panel decision.
Chand tested positive for three SARMs — Andarin, Ligandrol and Enobosarm (Ostarine). These substances are similar to anabolic steroids. But they don’t produce androgenic (male characteristics) effects on the individual. These substances are yet to be approved as medicines for humans or ingredients for supplements by authorities.
Quite often, athletes come up with explanations regarding supplements turning up positive for such banned substances, and it is to be seen what Chand’s defence in the case would be once it reaches the ADDP.
It is learnt that Chand had written down around a dozen supplements and medications in her doping control form when her sample was collected.
Chand was barred from athletics by the world body (IAAF as known then) for her testosterone (male hormone) levels and other biological sex related issues. But she won her case at CAS with the Government of India, several organisations and individuals supporting her in her “fight” against the IAAF.
Chand is a former Asian 200m champion, two-time Olympian and a World University Games (WUG) champion in the 100m in 2019. At the Tokyo Olympics, she finished seventh in her 100m heats. In 2022 her best for 100m was 11.40s in the Inter-State meet in Chennai. She clocked national record of 11.17s in Patiala in June 2021.
In a series of high profile cases in 2022, NADA had charged another sprinter, M. V. Jilna, before the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, while another sprinter S. Dhanalakshmi was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit of the WA following a test in Antalya, Turkey. Jilna’s case is still going on.
Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh and long jumper-triple jumper B. Aishwarya also failed NADA tests in 2022. Shivpal’s suspension was recently reduced to one year for a steroid offence while the order in Aishwarya’s case is awaited.
AIU also suspended two other leading Indian women, discus throwers Kamalpreet Kaur and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, in 2022. Both took the option of admitting their offences and got three-year sanctions.
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