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NADA to take up Monika doping case

by K.P. Mohan

NEW DELHI: The Monika Devi doping case is expected to go before the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. The panel is scheduled to start functioning soon.

However, several questions remain, not only about the procedures but also about the eventual sanction in case Monika is found ‘guilty’ and all legal formalities are completed.

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) had taken over the ‘results management’ in all doping cases in all sports in the country and the Indian Weightlifting Federation, like many other National federations, had concurred with the NADA over the latter’s role and that of the disciplinary panel.

Last week, one of Monika’s petitions that was pending before a division bench in the Delhi High Court, was disposed of as she had filed a fresh petition. She would, however, be at liberty to pursue her case before a single judge of the same court.

Once NADA clears legal hurdles, if any, it is expected to refer the weightlifter’s case to the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. The most ticklish part for the disciplinary panel would be the quantum of punishment, should it return a verdict of ‘guilty’.

Without many people coming to know of it, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) had changed its anti-doping rules in March last year to provide for a four-year suspension for first-time offenders instead of the two-year ban.

To go by WADA Code

“We will go by the WADA Code,” said a NADA spokesman on Wednesday when asked about the IWF changing the minimum sanction to four years. The WADA Code, as well as the NADA rules that are based on the 2003 Code, provides only for a two-year suspension for a first-time offence.

It will be of interest then what stance the IWF would take in case Monika is found to have violated an anti-doping rule. In an e-mail communication to The Hindu on Tuesday, the IWF Legal Counsel, Monika Ungar, confirmed that in March 2008, the IWF Executive Board had decided to raise the minimum suspension from two to four years for a first violation.

Forty-two first-time offenders, including India’s Kavita Devi, were suspended for four years in 2008 for first violations. The list included 11 lifters each from Bulgaria and Greece, who were preparing for the Beijing Olympics and tested positive in the run-up.

Monika was reported for a steroid violation in August last year and she was prevented from making the trip to Beijing for participation in the Olympics. The Manipuri lifter alleged a conspiracy and she and the Indian federation questioned procedures.

Following an uproar in her home State, the Union Government appointed an enquiry commission, under Mr. T.S. Krishna Murthy, who eventually recommended, among other things, the testing of the ‘B’ sample in an accredited laboratory abroad. The samples were tested in the WADA-accredited Tokyo laboratory. PTI reported last month that her ‘B’ sample had tested positive.