India averted a major embarrassment at the recently concluded Asian Games after one of its athlete was found to have tested positive for a banned drug. Kayaker N Lajenganbi Chanu, who was part of the K4-500 metres women’s team, was pulled out on the day of the competition — September 27 — after reports from an out-of-competition dope test carried out by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) showed the presence of metandieone in her body.
The anabolic steroid is on the 2014 WADA Prohibited List and is known to help athletes improve muscle strength.
NADA’s report, a copy of which is with the Indian Express, was sent to the Indian Kayaking & Canoeing Association (IKCA) only on September 26, a day before the competition.
The officials acted swiftly and Chanu was immediately put on a plane, her place in the team going to Biju Anusha. The women’s team, incidentally, finished last in the K4 finals at the Incheon Games.
“We were lucky we were told about the positive test a day before the competition. Imagine what would have happened had she participated and the result came after the competition? Thankfully we didn’t have to face bad press because of this,” IKCA secretary general Balbir Singh Kushwaha told The Indian Express. “She was put on a flight back to India on the day of the competition itself,” he added.
Kushwaha, though, was sympathetic towards Chanu and said she was not the kind to get involved in drugs. “I am sure there is a viable explanation to this mess,” Kushwaha added.
NADA’s first notice finding after the initial review pointed out that Chanu had not applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). A TUE is a special permission needed by sportspersons prior to using a prohibited substance for medical purposes and based on substantial medical documentation.
Chanu had given her sample alongside 24 national campers in Bhopal on September 6 and the positive result of her ‘A’ sample came on September 26, following which her participation was withdrawn and she was provisionally suspended.
“She was running a fever when she was with us during the Asian Games camp in Bhopal. So we are not very clear as to what triggered the positive result. She may have taken a medicine… But let us get the B sample tested first,” said S Regunathan, the IKCA chief.
Chanu’s ‘B’ sample test is tentatively scheduled on October 13.