India stares at the unpleasant possibility of losing two gold medals it won during the recent Hangzhou Asian Para Games as Neeraj Yadav failed a dope test conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) a few days before the continental showpiece.
It is learnt that Neeraj tested positive for anabolic steroids in an out-of-competition test conducted in Bengaluru just “six days” before his departure for Hangzhou.
If he is found to have committed a doping offence by the NADA panel, India is expected to lose the two gold medals Yadav won in the F55 javelin and discus throw events in the October 22-28 event.
It could also see India dropping one place down to sixth from the original fifth. In that case, Indonesia, which had won 29 gold, 30 silver and 36 bronze, will rise one place to fifth.
India won 29 gold, 31 silver and 51 bronze but its count of the gold medals may now be reduced to 27 if Yadav is found guilty of doping.
“We have written to the NADA that the sample in question might not have been his. Or otherwise, the sample could have been contaminated,” Paralympic Committee of India’s (PCI) athletics head coach S Satyanarayana told PTI from Bengaluru.
“We got to know of the ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violation) on November 13 and he has seven days to represent his case. So, his case will be heard on November 21,” he added.
The 39-year-old Yadav could not be reached despite repeated attempts as he did not respond to calls.
Satyanarayana, however, admitted that India would lose the two gold medals Yadav won in Hangzhou if the para-athlete is found guilty of doping by the NADA panel.
“Yes, we will lose the two gold medals if the NADA panel does not accept our contention. It does not matter whether it is an ADRV in a domestic sample or collected by an international agency or body, his results will be annulled since the test was done prior to the Asian Para Games,” he said.
“But why we are saying his sample could have been misplaced or contaminated is that he was tested twice in Hangzhou and so far we have not heard of any doping offence from the Asian Para Games samples,” Satyanarayana said the PCI will wait for results from the two dope samples given by Yadav in Hangzhou.
“If he returns positive in Hangzhou tests, then he is guilty of doping and we have no case. If he comes clean in the two tests in Hangzhou, there is no way he will have an ADRV in the NADA sample because steroids remain for a long time in the body system,” he added.
“This particular test was done in Bengaluru six days before going to Hangzhou. He had given three samples in September, including during the trial selection for the Hangzhou Asian Games, and they all came clean. He is an experienced athlete competing for 10 years and he knows the consequences.
“Moreover, the sample collection of seven athletes was done together in a single room (of SAI Centre in Bengaluru) and there is a chance of samples being attributed to wrong people. This is what he told me.
“It’s two steroids and not one found in his sample. He was surprised to get to know of his ADRV. He said there was something wrong with the sample collection. He also told me that he has not taken any food supplements and he wrote this on the declaration form.”
According to Satyanarayan, the NADA has not provisionally suspended Yadav even though he has returned positive for anabolic steroids.
Interestingly, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules dealing with provisional suspensions and contaminated products permit a Result Management Authority (RMA) not to impose provisional suspension.
“Although a Provisional Suspension is mandatory in respect of AAF or ADRV involving Prohibited Substances that are not classified as Specified Substances on the Prohibited List, an RMA may decide not to impose or to lift a Provisional Suspension if it is satisfied that (a) the Athlete’s explanation regarding the Use of a Contaminated Product is credible, and (b) no unfairness to other Athletes will result from the Athlete being permitted to compete.”
Yadav claimed gold in the javelin throw in the Asian Para Games in 2018 before securing the yellow metal in the javelin and discus throw in the Marrakesh Grand Prix last year.
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