‘Controversy over Monika’s dope test could have been avoided’

September 12th, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) The controversy surrounding Monika Devi’s dope test before the Beijing Olympics could have been easily avoided, retired chief election commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy noted in his report, which he submitted to Sports Minister M. S. Gill Friday. In his 19-page report, Krishnamurthy said there was a “considerable delay” in completing the test of the sample of Monika taken on June 6 and in communicating the report to the athlete.

Krishnamurthy noted that though withdrawing her from Beijing Olympics was “right procedurally, the athlete did not have any opportunity to rebut the finding as she was not informed of the deficiency in time.”

The report ruled out any “malafide intentions” on the part of authorities to stop her her from competing in Beijing Olympics. It blamed Sports Authority of India (SAI), National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) and the India Weightlifting Federation of (IWF) for lack of co-ordination.

“The urgency, transparency and sensitivity of the athletes concerned seem to have been put on a backburner,” he wrote in his findings.

“Had the testing been done within the stipulated time and the result thereof been communicated immediately thereafter, the disappointment and the mental shock the athlete had by the sudden and abrupt communication especially through the media first could have been easily avoided.”

“The whole controversy surrounding this episode could have very well been avoided had there been a better management of the procedures for coaching camps, process of selection of athlete, testing of the samples as well as communications of the results thereof and appointment of coach,” Krishnamurthy noted.

“At every stage whether in the matter of organizing the coaching camps, selection of the athlete or the appointment of coach or in communicating the results of dope testing, the urgency, transparency and sensitivity of the athletes concerned seem to have been put on a backburner and an ad hoc approach to the core issues was more evident.”

Krishnamurthy came down heavily on the NDTL for keeping the “testing process and the result” under suspense for too long a period.

“Notwithstanding the various reasons advanced by the NDTL contributing to the delay. In my opinion, this is an area where immediate intervention is called for from the ministry so that in future no such lapses take place and proper guidelines to be given to the NDTL so that a contingency plan is also available with the laboratory in case of unforeseen anticipated delays.”

“It is unfair for an athlete being made to run from pillar to post to know the result of the test without any written communication within the specified time limit.”

He said that the athlete should be informed of the actual state of affairs so that he is in a position to exercise the rights available under the World Anti Doping Agency code which includes the right to ask for a B sample test.

“I would now suggest that the B sample kept in NDTL should be examined by another accredited laboratory outside India for an immediate analysis so that the genuineness of her claim that she did not test positive at no point of time can be verified to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. Should the athlete test positive in the test of B Sample, she has to face the consequences. On the other hand, if the test confirms her innocence, she needs to be adequately and suitably compensated.”

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