Geeta Rani’s two-year suspension upheld

The National Anti-Doping Agency Appeal Panel has upheld a Disciplinary Panel order, handing two years’ ineligibility to 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist weightlifter Geeta Rani for an anti-doping rule violation.

The 36-year-old Geeta Rani, a +75kg lifter who also secured medals in prestigious events such as the Asian championship and the Afro-Asian Games, tested positive for an anabolic steroid during the Kerala National Games in Thrissur on February 5, 2015   -  AFP

The National Anti-Doping Agency’s Appeal Panel has upheld a Disciplinary Panel order, handing weightlifter Geeta Rani a two-year suspension for a violation.

The 36-year-old 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist who also won medals in at the Asian championship and the Afro-Asian Games, tested positive for an anabolic steroid during the 2015 National Games in Thrissur and at the all -India Police championship in Delhi exactly a month later.

Appearing before the Disciplinary Panel, Geeta Rani, an Arjuna awardee in 2006, had said she had never tested positive in the past and had little to achieve by doping at the fag end of her career.

She said the positive test could have been because of a possible sabotage, due to the spiking of her drink, by a fellow lifter. However, she could not provide any concrete proof relating to her claim.

The Disciplinary Panel halved the maximum period of ineligibility (four years) under the ‘no significant fault or negligence’ clause and awarded Geeta Rani a two-year suspension on April 13, 2016, following which she moved the Appeal Panel against the order.

The Appeal Panel, in its July 6 order, said, “the standard of proof should have been much higher for seeking such a relief”, and upheld the suspension.

Since Geeta Rani was provisionally suspended on April 13, 2015, and has already served the suspension term, she is now free to resume her sporting career.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had appealed against the two years’ award in the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS), but NADA got it withdrawn pending Geeta Rani’s appeal. The WADA may now move CAS against the Appeal Panel order.