For Subrata Paul, news of India making it to 100 in Fifa rankings for the first time since April 1996 would be doubly satisfying because it came on a day the national team goalie found he could play again for club and country despite having failed a dope test.
Paul is travelling to Cuttack with his club DSK Shivajians for the eight-team Federation Cup which begins on May 7. India coach Stephen Constantine has been informed by the AIFF that should he want, Paul can be selected for next month’s friendly against Lebanon and the 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic at home.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has cross-checked with the National Anti Doping Authority (NADA), which tested Paul in March and found traces of banned substance terbutaline in his A sample, and was told that neither Paul’s club nor India would be penalised even if he is eventually punished. HT learnt this late on Thursday from its sources in the AIFF.
“The substance Paul tested positive for is in the specified list and that clears him to play. Had it been a prohibitive substance, he would have been banned immediately,” said a source in the AIFF. In football’s major tournaments sanctions are imposed on a team only if two or more players have violated anti-doping rules during the competition.
Seeking to be exonerated
Having full faith in NADA , Paul, 30, has on May 1 appealed to be exonerated, stating that it was with “utter disbelief” that he received the news of having failed a dope test for the first time in his life.
Paul, who has captained India, has stated in his appeal that it was the India team doctor who gave him a cough syrup that contained the banned substance. Paul was tested in Mumbai in March at an India team preparatory camp.
In his appeal, Paul has stated that in future he would ask for the details and composition of any medicine prescribed before consuming it “so as to ensure not to use inadvertently or otherwise any prohibitive substance.” HT has seen the appeal which was also sent to the AIFF.
Paul, an India player since 2007, has asked to be let off with a warning as “any sanction” inflicted “mechanically” would “amount to grave injustice.”