Shot-putter Inderjeet Singh’s four-year doping ban was set aside by an independent appeal panel on Friday. The Asian Games bronze medallist had tested positive for anabolic steroids just before the 2016 Rio Olympics. Following a long-drawn hearing by the disciplinary panel, Inderjeet was banned in July this year. Not satisfied with the procedure followed, the athlete knocked on the doors of the appeal panel.
While overturning the ban, the appeal panel, in its order, came down heavily on NADA; pulling them up for failing to follow proper procedures and asking them to formulate standard operating procedure in accordance with international standards. It specifically pointed to the lapse in the chain of custody of a sample.
Test results of two separate samples collected on different dates were positive in Inderjeet’s case. The order says it was found that one of Inderjeet’s samples were, for a short period of time, stored in the refrigerator at the home of a doping control officer. Not just that, there was also a disparity in the measure of another sample collected and tested.
The appeal panel also observed that NADA must improve its review process of test results, including whether sample collection was done properly by producing a detailed report on the re-checking at every stage and a proper certification of the reviewing authority.
“…we set aside the AAF (adverse analytical finding) with regard to the first sample and second sample and consequently set aside the impugned order dated July 4, 2018 passed by the anti-doping disciplinary panel… We also set aside the ineligibility of the athlete (4 years) from the 25-07-2016,” the order said.
Inderjeet said that he always had faith in the appeal panel. “I have always been proud to represent the country and win medals. This order will only motivate me further to get back to my best and represent India again. I was confident that justice would prevail in my case,” Inderjeet said.
Advocate Anish Dayal who appeared for Inderjeet said: “Though the athlete has lost two and a half precious sporting years in the process, it vindicates his stand and releases him from the ban. Importantly the panel has affirmed that it is the responsibility of NADA to strictly ensure compliance of international standards of testing and collection since the athlete is subject to strict liability under the anti-doping code.”
Sports activist and lawyer Saurabh Mishra, who was the shot-putter’s consultant, said that the order of the appeal panel will help in ensuring that NADA follows proper procedures when it comes to collection, testing and investigation henceforth.
The panel was headed by senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija and the members were former cricketer Vinay Lamba and Dr Harsh Mahajan.