For the first time in the history of anti-doping in India, a coach has been suspended for injecting an athlete with steroids and for his “complicity” in the doping of the young Maharashtra athlete, Kirti Bhoite.
The coach, Mickey Menezes, was suspended for four years and fined Rs 50,000 in a landmark decision ordered by an Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) headed by Ms. Charu Pragya.
Bhoite, a sprinter, was initially suspended for four years by the ADDP for testing positive for a steroid in the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati in 2020. The sanction was reduced to two years later by an appeal panel on the argument that she was unaware of the substances that the coach had given her. The appeal panel was informed by the Maharashtra Athletics Association (MHAA) that the coach had been suspended for four years after an enquiry.
In the meantime, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) imposed a provisional suspension on Menezes from 9 March 2020. He was asked to explain his conduct of administering banned drugs to the athlete.
The coach pleaded through his submissions before the MHAA that he had been giving multivitamins and supplements to the athlete through her parents but when his “supplier” told him that there was a new drug available which could provide strength to the athlete, he believed him and administered the injection.
Menezes said that he was not at fault, but his supplier was since he completely believed the latter and had no idea about a banned drug being present in what was explained to him as “Propionate”. It must have been Drostanolone propionate, for, Bhoite tested positive for metabolites of drostanolone.
A virtual hearing was held on 30 September 2022 in which the coach did not attend. His submissions were, however, recorded by the panel. The NADA lawyer was present, and he argued that the coach was a former athlete and must have been aware of the anti-doping rules. It was his duty to ensure that the rules were not breached.
The panel ruled that ignorance of law could not be an excuse in providing a banned drug to an athlete. It was noted that the injection was administered when the athlete was competing in the Khelo India games. It was done to gain undue advantage from the performance of his trainee, the panel said.
The coach, who pleaded that his mistake should be condoned by NADA, was suspended from 12 May 2022 from all coaching and training activities in any sport conducted by a “signatory” or a member organization of a signatory.
This is the first time NADA has pursued a charge against a coach and brought it to a suspension before a hearing panel. In the past too there had been charges levelled against coaches, but such instances never reached the stage of a charge being issued and a hearing being arranged before a panel.
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