Basketball star Satnam Singh Bhamara fails dope test

The 23-year-old Punjab cager has been provisionally suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency.

Satnam Singh Bhamara pulled out of the South Asian Games citing personal reasons.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Satnam Singh Bhamara, the first Indian player to be drafted into an NBA team in 2015, has been provisionally suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency for having failed a dope test last month.

The 23-year-old Punjab cager failed an out-of-competition test conducted in Bengaluru by NADA during the preparatory camp for the South Asian Games. He was provisionally suspended on November 19, according to a newsletter released by NADA.

Bhamara had pulled out of the 13th South Asian Games, which began on December 1, citing personal reasons. The 7-foot-2-inch player was training at the SAI Centre, Bengaluru, for the Games.

The prohibited substance found from Bhamara’s ‘A’ sample of his urine is not known.

According to NADA rules, an athlete has the right to request for the analysis of his/her ‘B’ sample within seven working days of receiving the notice concerning Adverse Analytical Finding of his/her ‘A’ Sample. If his ‘B’ sample also returns positive, his case will be heard by NADA’s Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel which will decide whether or not to impose punishment. If Bhamara is found guilty of doping, he faces a maximum ban of four years for a first-time offender.

However, it is not known whether Bhamara has requested for the analysis of his ‘B’ sample.

‘Not aware’

Basketball Federation of India secretary-general Chander Mukhi Sharma said he wasn’t aware of Bhamara’s suspension as he had been out of station. “I am not aware of this issue and I will be able to attend office only on December 15,” Sharma told PTI.

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Asked why the federation would not know of the suspension, he said, “The letter from the NADA (to the BFI) must have come in a sealed envelope and I have not seen it. So, I don’t know the prohibited substance found in the player’s sample. Otherwise, the player himself must be having the letter from the NADA and he must be knowing it.”

‘No suspicion’

Sharma said Bhamara had written a letter to the BFI stating he was pulling out of the South Asian Games due to personal reasons. “We have no suspicion that Bhamara may be taking substances. He simply told us in a letter that he was having some personal problems and so he will not take part in the South Asian Games,” Sharma said.

In 2015, Bhamara created history when he was picked in the NBA draft by Dallas Mavericks. He went on to play the next two years in the Development League with Texas Legends, an affiliate of Dallas Mavericks. After returning to India for a year, Bhamara again created history in September, 2018, by becoming the first Indian cager to play in the National Basketball League of Canada; he had signed a deal with St John’s Edge.

Bhamara has represented India in major tournaments like the Asian Championships, the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.