The country’s high profile 400m runner Priyanka Panwar has failed a dope test, becoming the third top athlete to miss the flight to Rio de Janeiro after shot putter Inderjit Singh and sprinter Dharambir Singh were dropped from the team due to positive tests for performance enhancing drugs.
Panwar was a member of the core group of 400m runners who were preparing for Rio since 2015 and her positive test belies the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) contention that athletes in the national camp are clean.
She had tested positive for the stimulant mephentermine during the Inter-State Athletics Championships held at Hyderabad from June 28 to July 2. Though she skipped the individual 400m race, she was a member of the national 4x400m relay team (C Group). Her team finished third.
The Railways athlete has waived the B sample test. This is her second offence, and hence if found guilty, she would face a ban of eight years.
She had failed a dope test in 2011 for an anabolic steroid. She was among six top women quartermilers who had failed dope tests. All the six were banned for two years.
Panwar, 28, was selected for the Rio-bound 4x400m relay team, but was later dropped. She was replaced by Ashwini Akkunji.
She was part of the core group of runners training for Rio in the past 18 months, but her performance wasn’t impressive last year. In fact, she skipped domestic meets on the pretext of injury or some family problem. However, she still got the AFI’s nod to be part of the national squad which went on an exposure tour to Turkey to prepare for Rio.
After she returned from the two-year ban in 2013, she was selected for the national camp, and included in the Incheon Asian Games relay squad. The team won gold clocking 3:28.68 seconds. Other members of the team were Tintu Luka, Mandeep Kaur and MR Poovamma.
Her doping episode casts a shadow on the other members of the relay team currently in Rio. Barring a few in India’s track and field squad, the others have failed to repeat their performances in the recent past.