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Boxer Amit Panghal’s doping past may cost him dear

According to the website of the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) which got derecognised in 2014, Panghal was absent from the boxing scene for two years after the first Dr BR Ambedkar All India Men’s Boxing Tournament in Visakhapatnam in August 2012.

other sports Updated: Sep 09, 2018 10:01 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
amit panghal,bfi,doping
Jakarta: India's Amit Panghal gestures after he was declared winner against Paalam Carlo (unseen) of Philippines in the Men's Light Fly (46-49kg) boxing semifinal bout at the 18th Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, Aug 31, 2018. (PTI)

Amit Panghal, whose Asian Games gold was a saving grace for Indian boxing at the Jakarta Asian Games, may pay a heavy price for a doping ban that put him out of action between 2012 and 2014.

The 49kg boxer tested positive for an anabolic steroid in 2012 and was consequently banned for two years. Later, he appealed against the verdict which led to the ban being reduced to a year because he was a first-time offender. However, according to the rules of the sports ministry, any penalisation for doping renders an athlete ineligible for the Arjuna award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.

“I tested positive during a competition and trained hard for one-and-a-half years during the ban. After the Jakarta gold, I may be a top contender for Arjuna. I hope my doping record will not affect my chances,” said army man Panghal.

This year, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) nominated Gaurav Bhiduri and Sonia Lather for the prestigious Arjuna award. On Friday, the sports ministry extended the deadline for nominations to September 12 to include those with exceptional performances at the Asian and Commonwealth Games. But Panghal’s doping record may ruin his dream of getting a nomination. It isn’t clear if BFI intends to nominate him. BFI is yet to decide whether to send more nominations. “Amit’s medal was saving our saving grace. However, we have not yet decided if we will be sending more nominations. A decision will be taken by September 11 or 12,” BFI secretary general Jay Kowli said.

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“I suffered from chickenpox and had taken prescribed medicine by the doctor. I was young then and unaware about food and the composition of medicines that I was taking,” the 22-year-old said over the phone from Rohtak.

According to the website of the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) which got derecognised in 2014, Panghal was absent from the boxing scene for two years after the first Dr BR Ambedkar All India Men’s Boxing Tournament in Visakhapatnam in August 2012. He made a return in October 2014 at the 47th Senior Men’s Haryana State Championships in Bhiwani, Haryana.

Before the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) changed its rules on January 1, 2015, first-time offenders would get a two-year ban.

The sports ministry’s criteria for Arjuna clearly states that “sportspersons who have been penalised by WADA based on a sample collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) or any other agency authorised by WADA and tested by National Dope Testing Laboratory or any other WADA accredited laboratory, will not be eligible for the award”.

Discus thrower Seema Punia’s name was recommended for the Khel Ratna in 2015 and she has been recommended for the Arjuna award this year despite being involved in a doping controversy.

Still, that was different because Punia was reprimanded, not suspended.

During the 2000 World Junior Championships in Santiago, Punia tested positive for the stimulant pseudoephedrine and her medal was withdrawn. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) heard her case where she said she was unaware of any banned substance in the medicine she took for cold. She was reprimanded rather than being suspended. Punia was just 17 years-old at the time.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 09:58 IST