A fresh doping scandal could mar the Athletics Federation of India's plan to achieve the Olympic qualification mark in the women's 4x400m relay.
The national squad received a severe blow when one of the probables --- Ratandeep Kaur --- was suspended for refusing to comply with the sample-collection procedures.
Sources said the Punjab Police runner, during a random out-of-competition test, gave officials from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) the slip. She is among the five relay runners in the Olympic preparatory camp currently underway in Patiala.
Her refusal amounts to an anti-doping law violation, though she has the right to appeal. But with the last relay qualification round the corner, her comeback to the national squad looks near impossible.
On June 1, NADA had collected 38 samples of top athletes and table tennis players preparing for the London Games, but Ratandeep continued to play hide and seek with the officials. If proven guilty, she could face a two-year suspension.
The episode has further hit the depleted national squad that is struggling to move closer to the top-16 rank in the world, which would win them a passage to the Olympics. With Ratandeep out, the baton-exchange drills will be confined to four runners --- MR Poovama, Debashree Majumdar, K Mridula and Priyanka Mondal.