Javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang, who had tested positive for marijuana last year, was let off with a reprimand on Wednesday by the anti-doping disciplinary panel of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).
Kang had tested positive when samples were collected in May during the 3rd leg of the 2017 Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi. Subsequently, in his written submission to NADA, Kang had claimed he had consumed thandai to get rid of excess heat in the body, which had resulted in bleeding from his nose. He also said that he suffered from a urinary infection and was advised by a fellow thrower to drink the thandai as a cure. He had also stated that he was unaware of marijuana being one of its ingredients. Kang admitted to drinking thandai multiple times during this period.
Marijuana or cannabinoids falls in the specified category of substances which do not automatically result in a provisional ban and Kang also competed in the World Championships in August, where he reached the final of the men’s javelin throw. He was a bronze medallist at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar in July last year.
In the case of cannabindoids, the World Anti-Doping Agency Code allows a reprimand or a maximum sentence of two years if an athlete is able to prove that the substance was not used for enhancing performance.
Kang’s lawyer Anish Dayal argued that marijuana falls in the specified category and the athlete had, in his submission, admitted that he had consumed thandai based on advice from a fellow thrower in order to get relief from excessive heat in his body.
The panel, headed by advocate Nalin Kohli, which comprised former India hockey forward Jagbir Singh and Dr Rana Chengappa concluded that Kang had not consumed marijuana in order to enhance his performance and also said that there was no significant fault or negligence on the part of the athlete.
The panel concluded that Kang deserved a reprimand while also cautioning him that a much higher standard of conscience, care and awareness was expected as well as mandated from an athlete who sought to compete at a national or international level. Intention to cheat in a competition was not applicable to Kang in this case, the panel said.
The committee also noted that Kang, after testing positive, had asked his fellow athlete about the ingredients of the thandai. The athlete informed Kang that the drink contained bhang. NADA, on its part, argued that Kang should have taken due care and caution when consuming a local beverage by checking the exact contents. It also highlighted the fact that Kang had tested positive for an anabolic steroid in February and is currently undergoing a provisional suspension.
However, the panel said his positive test for an anabolic steroid cannot be applicable to the marijuana case as both were unrelated. “Subsequent proceedings will stand on its own merit,” the panel concluded.
However, Kang’s future remains uncertain as he has a steroid violation against his name following an out-of-competition test. The test results of his ‘B’ sample are still awaited. Kang was part of the testing pool of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which meant he had to share his whereabouts. The results of his positive test was communicated by the IAAF in late February and Kang had to withdraw from the first leg of the Indian Prix held in Patiala.
What the code says
10.5.1.1 Specified Substances
Where the anti-doping rule violation involves a Specified Substance, and the Athlete or other Person can establish No Significant Fault or Negligence, the period of Ineligibility shall be, at a minimum, a reprimand and no period of Ineligibility, and at a maximum, two years of Ineligibility, depending on the Athlete’s or other Person’s degree of fault.