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Powerlifter alleges coercion by NADA to collect sample, agency denies charge


Press Trust of India New Delhi
An Andhra powerlifter, Raghavendra Goud Yelugani, has alleged that the National Anti-Doping Agency used coercion to extract a fresh sample from him after the suspended National Dope Testing Laboratory's report of his B sample had cleared him of any violation.
However, a senior Project Officer from the NADA categorically denied any use of "force" and said that the powerlifter has "consistently used steroids as the fresh sample indicated".
The 24-year-old Raghavendra has alleged that the NADA forcibly collected a fresh sample from him at its Delhi headquarters and kept him provisionally suspended after that.
The documents in possession of PTI reveal that Raghavendra was tested 'In Competition' (IC) by the NADA during the National Unequipped Powerlifting Championship on September 30, 2018 and the sample was handed over to NDTL on October 3, 2018.
On January 9, 2019, NDTL's report had Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) on three counts and Raghavendra tested positive for banned substances.
As per norm, he sought a test of his B sample on January 25, 2019 for a fee of Rs 11,500.
Raghavendra, in his letter to NADA Director General Naveen Agarwal, alleged that he was asked to come to NADA headquarters in New Delhi on March 29, 2019 and was forced to provide a third "urine sample", which according to him was used to suspend him.
This was after Raghavendra received a letter from NADA on August 7, 2018 which stated that his "B sample did not confirm the A sample adverse analytical finding (AAF)".
Accordingly, Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) case couldn't be recorded against Raghavendra as per clause 7.3.4 of NADA's anti-doping rules.
The clause states: "If the B sample analysis doesn't confirm the A sample analysis, then (unless NADA takes the case forward as an ADRV violation under clause 2.2), the entire test shall be considered "negative" and athlete, athlete's national federation, athlete's international federation and WADA shall so be informed."

However, it is understood that NADA kept him under provisional suspension because the test results of his B sample report (6342656), taken on his insistence late January, differed from the test result of fresh sample No (6364400), which the powerlifter alleged to have been forcibly collected from him on March 29 at NADA headquarters.
Raghavendra's legal counsels Parth Goswami and Hemant Phalpher have questioned the alleged collection of a third sample collection in March after the 'B' sample was taken in January.
"In a letter written to Agarwal, the athlete has claimed that he was insulted and humiliated by NADA officials when he was called to the NADA office for investigation. He further claimed that he was forced to give his urine sample under duress and under threats of facing life ban from the sport.
"Lifter has also asked DG NADA to withdraw notice of charge for his sample collected at NADA office," the lawyers have written in the letter to NADA.
NADA's Project Officer Dr Ankush Gupta told PTI that no force was used.
"Yes, his B sample report was negative after the A sample showed adverse analytical finding (AAF). However there was some discussions how parameters of A and B sample (collected at the same time) differed drastically. There was discussion and NADA DG asked us to conduct an inquiry to see why there is such anomaly," Gupta said.
"Accordingly, he was called at the NADA office and our investigating officer Mr Sharma (full name he couldn't recollect) gave the athlete ample chance to explain his story. Since A and B sample reports have been different, we treated the case as null and void. The DG had said that if he is present, why don't we collect fresh sample from him," said Gupta, even though he didn't deny that the athlete was made to wait from morning till evening.
However, he rubbished claims that multiple officers threatened the powerlifter.
"Athletes keep coming to our office and we know how to handle them. Also, if the athlete is saying 10 officials were present, let me tell you, at any given point, we never have so many officers present in NADA office. Also the fresh sample again had AAF. He has been consistently using steroids," Gupta said.
The NDTL was suspended last month by the World Anti-Doping Agency after it failed to match upto the standards meant for WADA-accredited laboratories.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 6:50 PM IST

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