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NEW DELHI: Former National champion Sukanya Mishra alleged on Friday that chaperons were used to substituting urine samples with their own during dope-testing procedures, and Indian coaches were getting banned drugs from the foreign coaches and selling them at “double the price.”
Her startling revelations came during an Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel hearing. Sukanya, winner of the Open National and inter-State hammer throw titles in 2009, is facing a charge of steroid use reported in an out-of-competition test in November, 2009.
Intervening during her lawyer's arguments before a panel headed by retired judge Dinesh Dayal on Friday, Sukanya said that at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, chaperons who normally do duty during sample collection procedures were always willing to substitute samples with their own for a consideration.
“The class IV staff says you give this much and I will give my urine sample,” the 25-year-old Railway athlete said of a practice that had long been suspected and talked about but about which no athlete or coach or official had come forward and deposed before an officially-constituted panel till now.
Sukanya also said that it was common knowledge that coaches were bringing banned drugs from “outside” or buying them from “foreign coaches” and selling them at “double the price” in camps.
Again, athletes and coaches had been talking about this practice in private for long, but the authorities have so far not bothered to look into any such possibility. Worse, training trips to centres abroad in recent years by athletes, especially to cities in Ukraine, though suspiciously viewed by former internationals and discussed in the media, have always been wholeheartedly encouraged and supported by all agencies.
“I don't think any coach has ever been punished,” said Sukanya when one of the panel members argued that the committee was capable of recommending action against the coaches also.
Sukanya, who finished sixth in the 2009 Asian championships in Guangzhou, claimed that she had been given “supplements” and creatine, among other things, by her coach Shubhdeep Singh Mann. She argued that she was not aware of what the ingredients were.
Sukanya's lawyer, Sanjeev Kumar Dubey, who has taken the panel members “round and round” through several hearings_ as described by the chairman of the panel himself — sought to explain each and every rule in the WADA Code and attempted to establish that rules were violated from sample collection down to testing procedures.
At one time, an exasperated Mr. Dayal quipped: “Can all these things produce stanozolol in your body?” Mr. Dubey was trying to find fault with a few date changes noticed in the laboratory reports and pointed out that some of the signatures did not carry dates alongside.
Sukanya complained that quite often supplements being supplied “officially” were unavailable to the campers while the same “out of stock” supplements used to appear in the open market later. She emphasized that she had not improved dramatically in recent years (personal best 56.96m) and had cleared all dope tests prior to the one in question.
Her case has dragged on for more than a year now. Barring an intimation given by an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official on phone to the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) that she be kept out of competition, there had surprisingly been no provisional suspension so far.
The fact that neither the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) nor the AFI had imposed a provisional suspension on the athlete was noted by the panel members on Friday. The case is expected to be disposed of next month.
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