DNA test issue puts NADA’s process in poor light
Express News Service
Perhaps , this could be one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). In a first in the country, an amateur motorbike rider was exonerated of doping charges after integrity of the urine samples was established through DNA testing. Vijay Singh, as reported in these columns, had always maintained that the urine sample that tested positive for stanazolol (a steroid) was not his.
On Thursday, he was cleared of charges after a London laboratory said the urine sample was somebody else’s. “DNA profiles from stored urines A and B have provided a profile from a male individual that cannot have originated from Vijay Singh… Mr Vijay Singh cannot have contributed his DNA to the previously collected sample,” concluded the report from the Kings Forensics (King’s College, London).
There are a few things that seem amiss. The samples were collected during a motorsport event in November 2018. He had been serving a ban since Jan 2019. It was the appeals panel, not the disciplinary panel, that agreed for the DNA test subject to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) clearance last year. Even after paying the amount of £752 by November 2020, sports lawyer Vidushpat Singhania had to approach Delhi High court to direct NADA to collect the sample and send it to the London lab. It took over two years and four months to clear his name. He was serving a four-year ban.
What is more troublesome is that there was an error during the collection of the sample. Who messed it up? It could be anyone. That it occurred at the collection centre, as claimed by the rider, seems baffling. The Dope Control Officer is supposed to facilitate foolproof collection of sample. Such instances would only tarnish the reputation of the whole collection and testing process. This also leads to a fundamental question. Whose sample was it? And if indeed, that person was doping, as the sample suggested, then he must be competing everywhere. What looks perilous is that this could set a precedent. More athletes start challenging NADA’s collection method.
Website not updated
Of late, the NADA seems quiet. The Olympics are less than 50 days away. The number of sample collection too has come down. There is no news of the hearing of an Olympic-bound athlete who reportedly tested positive during an Indian Grand Prix athletics in February. Though the NADA was clear that it would focus on only Olympic-bound athletics, yet the collection in the last month or two has dropped.
Also sample this. NADA’s website still shows Navin Agarwal as the Director General – two months after he moved to his parent organisation Jammu and Kashmir Police. Even the twitter handle is quiet. General body members of NADA has Agarwal as the DG. The home page still has Agarwal’s address. In fact, Agarwal had been replaced by joint secretary sports, L Siddharth Singh for the time being. It needs to be seen whether Singh will continue or someone independent of sports ministry link would be placed soon.
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