Back-dated bans may enable the players to appear at london Olympics
INDIAN women athletes undergoing a year-long ban for doping offences had their Olympic dream revived yesterday after an appeals panel reduced their penalty.
Ashwini Akkunji, Sini Jose, Priyanka Panwar and Tiana Mary Thomas were handed the bans in December by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for testing positive for banned steroids, stanazolol and methandienone.
But NADA’s appeals panel ruled that the ban will be deemed to have come into force from last June when their urine samples were collected, allowing them to take part in the Olympics if they qualify.
The London Games will be held from July 27 to August 12.
Akkunji and Jose were part of the women’s 4x400m relay team that won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.
Akkunji also bagged the Asian Games 400m hurdles title.
The athletes had protested their innocence and blamed contaminated food supplements supplied by their former Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogorodnik for the positive results.
Ogorodnik was sacked from his post last July following the dope scandal.
NADA chief Rahul Bhatnagar said the appeals panel had back-dated the start of the ban to June so that the athletes could prepare for the Olympic trials.
“The panel has chosen the date of sample collection as the date for commencement of the ban period, as it enables the athletes to train and compete in the forthcoming Olympic trials,” Bhatnagar said in a statement.
India has never won a track medal at the Olympics, but the women’s 4x400m relay team was seen as the country’s main hope of a podium finish in London.
It was unclear if the World Anti-Doping Agency, which had pushed for a two-year ban for the athletes, will accept yesterday’s ruling by the Indian appeals panel.
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