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In rare case, banned heptathlete allowed to take part in Nat'l C'ships

Mareena George, who had just come into the national limelight last year, was banned earlier this year.

In rare case, banned heptathlete allowed to take part in Natl Cships

Mareena George in action (AFI)



Updated: 16 Jun 2023 6:29 AM GMT

In a rare case, the appeal panel of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) on Thursday passed an interim order allowing heptathlete Mareena George to participate in the ongoing National Inter-State Athletics Championship here after staying the operation of a one-year ban handed to her by the disciplinary committee in April.

George's sample was collected in an out-of-competition test at NIS Patiala in November last year, which resulted in an adverse finding for terbutaline -- a specified substance under the WADA Code.

The NADA Appeal Panel chaired by senior advocate Nalin Kohli on Thursday passed an interim order, saying, "This appears to be a case of very low degree of fault and negligence, which can easily be confirmed by the medical records as and when they are brought on record".

The Appeal Panel stayed the operation of order dated April 20 passed by the NADA Disciplinary Committee till the next date of hearing -- July 14 -- "to enable the athlete to participate in the trials for the Asian Games on June 16, 2023."

It is, however, yet to be seen how the interim order passed late on Thursday is implemented as the first of the seven events in heptathlon -- 100m hurdles -- begins at 7:25am on Friday.

The ongoing National Inter-State Championship is the final selection trial for the upcoming Asian Games in China.

Counsel for the athlete, advocate Parth Goswami argued that George had consumed a cough syrup prescribed by a district hospital in her home town in Kerala. However on reaching Patiala, the athlete felt discomfort in her throat and consumed the cough syrup which she was carrying. He argued that the panel must be mindful of the fact that the risk of throat infection, particularly for somebody like the athlete in question who experienced drastic change of temperature and air quality in a short period of time on account of travel from Kerala to Patiala, is both acceptable and believable.

Accepting this argument, the Appeal Panel of the NADA passed the order as an interim measure to let the athlete participate in the ongoing National Inter-State Championship here.

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