Discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, who finished sixth in the Tokyo Olympics, has been suspended for three years by World Athletics (WA) with effect from March 29.
In a decision published on its website on Wednesday, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the WA said that Kaur had admitted the anti-doping rule violation and accepted the consequences following which it reduced the otherwise applicable sanction of four years by one year as permitted in the rules.
Kaur had tested positive for steroid stanozolol in a sample that the AIU collected at Patiala on March 7. She was provisionally suspended by the AIU on March 29. All her results from March 7 would be annulled with resulting consequences of loss of awards and prize money from that date with the latest decision.
Kaur went into a prolonged “supplements testing” process before she finally accepted her guilt and agreed to the proposed sanction. As per the 2021 Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an athlete can admit the rule violation within 20 days of being issued a charge to be eligible to get a reduction of one year from a possible four-year sanction.
Kaur had written down “several supplements” in her doping control form (DCF) and when the notice was issued to her, she wanted to know what the financial implications would be in seeking a ‘B’ sample test and subsequently the laboratory document package. Her sample was tested by the Lausanne accredited laboratory.
She was permitted to have the supplement tested by the National Dope Testing Laboratory in New Delhi by the AIU. However, she informed the AIU that she had tested four of the supplements at a private lab and one protein supplement had turned in a report of “traces of steroid”.
She was then allowed to have that protein supplement tested at the NDTL which also reported the finding of stanozolol in it.
Kaur could not submit an unopened package of the supplement in question nor any remaining portion of it since she said she had sent the remainder of the supplements for testing as per her coach’s advice.
The AIU sought the opinion of its scientific advisor on the tests and reports. His conclusion was “the use of the reference protein supplement as documented and described by the athlete was not compatible with the adverse analytical finding as a matter of pharmacokinetics.”
Following this, the AIU issued a notice of charge informing her of the consequences and giving her time till September 21 to respond. It was AIU’s position that she had not established how the prohibited substance entered her body and that she had committed an anti-doping rule violation. She was bound to be suspended for four years, the AIU informed.
On September 27, Kaur returned the “admission of ADRV and acceptance of consequences” form which enabled her to get a reduced suspension of three years instead of the standard four years prescribed for a steroid violation.
That it took such a long period for Kaur to admit her guilt and accept the consequences comes as a surprise. The early or prompt admission should be recorded within 20 days of issue of a charge. In this case, the athlete was issued a charge only on September 7 though the first notice to her had gone in March. Strictly going by the rules, everything might have been in order but the “supplements testing” procedure can delay things for long as shown in this case.
Kaur had sprung a surprise last year by posting a national record of 65.06m at Patiala on March 19. Later competing alone at Patiala, she did 66.59m. It is not clear even now whether the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) would ratify the latter mark as a national record.
At the Tokyo Games, Kaur did 64.00m to qualify for the final in which she recorded 63.70m to finish sixth.
Kaur is the third Indian athlete to be suspended by the AIU this year. Earlier sprinter Dhanalakshmi was suspended for three years, and the same sanction was imposed on discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, both admitting their offences in time.
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has, in the meantime, suspended leading athletes M. R. Poovamma (400m) and Shivpal Singh and Rajender Singh (javelin) among others. The hearing process in the case against triple jump national record holder B. Aishwarya is yet to be completed.
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