The Arjuna Award winning goalkeeper was later cleared of the allegations…
India’s star goalkeeper, popularly known as ‘Spiderman’, Subrata Paul recently hit the headlines after his urine samples tested positive at the sidelines of the Indian national football team training camp being held in Mumbai.
“I am shocked, I have never cheated with football and trust me I never will,” Paul said instantly after he was informed about the samples being found to contain terbutaline.
The question then arises what happens next? Is this the end of the road for any athlete? The answer is definitely NO. Immediately after the first tests are done, the player has the right to understand the entire process and appeal for a review.
Explaining the complex process, noted sports lawyer Aneesh Dayal, who led the process for Paul’s appeal commented, “The process of sample testing has many layers and steps involved. It starts with collection of the samples (In competition or out competition), to preservation of the samples, to testing in a NADA authorized lab and ends in test results being handed out to NADA,”
“There are many a times chances of contamination and dilution if the test samples are not stored properly or there is a huge gap between the time of collection of the sample to the arrival at the testing lab,” elaborated Dayal while speaking at the first ever Sports Law and Policy Symposium in Bangalore
For every athlete to appeal for a review, it is important to understand the source of the intake. In most cases, athletes are given a one-time exception if the intake of that substance happens through a genuine source.
The shot-stopper was unknowingly administered the substance through a cough syrup
In Paul’s case, it was the AIFF’s team doctor who had not only prescribed but also handed him the cough syrup which led to the intake of a banned substance. Sreejith Kamal, Indian national team’s medical officer, was relieved of his duties immediately after he admitted the same in writing to the Disciplinary Committee of NADA.
“As the governing body of Indian Football, the AIFF is committed to strictly adhering to all the relevant anti-doping guidelines and has a zero-tolerance policy towards any violation in this regard,” read a statement from the AIFF announcing the decision to terminate the contract of the doctor who failed to take due care while prescribing a medicine to a national level footballer.
Though Paul’s battle met with a positive resolution there are numerous athletes who sometimes struggle to deal with this kind of scenarios. Commenting on the complexity of doping regulations Dayal said, “The doping regulations are very technical and complex in nature and it is written in fine print English. It sometimes becomes difficult to understand the regulations as most of the athletes come from marginalized backgrounds and may not have a working knowledge of English.”
“I and my team help out athletes in their appeal on a Pro Bono basis. I also urge my fellow community of lawyers to open their doors and to help out deserving athletes by working on their case on a Pro Bono basis,” urged Dayal while speaking to a room full of sports legal practitioners and specialists in Bangalore.
It was also concluded during the symposium that NADA should take active steps to further educate athletes about the best practices to avoid such situations. The role of the Federation taking in proactive steps and helping out their own athletes with legal and institutional support during these testing times was also discussed.