New Delhi: Asian champion shot putter Manpreet Kaur has been banned for four years by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for flunking four dope tests in 2017.
The period of suspension would begin from July 20, 2017, the date of her provisional suspension, according to an order of the anti-doping disciplinary panel (ADDP) of the NADA dated March 29.
"Yes, Manpreet Kaur has been suspended for four years," NADA Director General Navin Agarwal told PTI.
She has the option of filing an appeal before the Anti-Doping Appeal Panel.
Manpreet is set to lose the gold she won in the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar as well as her national record as the panel ruled that all her competitive results from the date of sample collection would be disqualified with all resulting consequences, including forfeiture of medals.
Manpreet tested positive four times in 2017. The first was at the Asian Grand Prix at Jinhua, China on April 24, followed by Federation Cup in Patiala (June 1), Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar (July 6) and the Inter-State Championships in Guntur (July 16). She won gold in all these meets.
She had set the national record of 18.86m at Jinhua.
She tested positive for steroid metenolone at the Jinhua Asian GP meet. In the other three meets in India, she tested positive for the stimulant dimethylbutylamine, a substance that has an almost similar structure as the more famous methylhexaneamine (MHA). All the four dope cases were counted as one by the ADDP.
Regarding the presence of steroid in the Jinhua sample, Manpreet's lawyers alleged "sabotage" and said her drink was spike while training in Patiala.
She said in April 2017, a kabaddi player from the Railways, Pradeep, who also used the same Railway facility as Manpreet, had brought along another kabaddi player (Gopal) with whom she had an argument one day. She said she had told him (Gopal) not to enter the gym as he was an "outsider".
She alleged that Gopal had intentionally "sabotaged" her drink following the argument.
"On the basis of information received from Mr Pradeep, the athlete registered a police complaint at PS, Grain Market, Patiala," the order stated.
Manpreet argued that "it was not a case of intentional consumption and could have been a sabotage".
The alternative argument was that the athlete deserved reduction of banned period to two years on the basis of "non-intentional ADRV".
It was also pointed out that the athlete was in the Registered Testing Pool of the International Association of Athletics Federation and was regularly tested and had an unblemished record.
The panel said that the athlete's allegation of a "sabotage" of her drink was "nothing more than hearsay" and a "weak state of evidence".
"The Athlete has failed to adduce any cogent evidence in support of her contention of sabotage done by co-athlete. In addition, there are no other exceptional circumstances and/or evidence submitted which could justify assumption of lack of intent. The violation of the anti-doping rule must, therefore, be deemed intentional," the panel said in its order.
"Normally, the period of ineligibility starts from the date of decision. The athlete is entitled to the benefit of credit for the period of provisional suspension," the panel said.