Trailblazer basketball player Satnam Singh Bhamara disputes dope charge against him
The 23-year-old Punjab cager has failed an out-of-competition test conducted in Bangalore by the National Anti-Doping Agency during the preparatory camp for the South Asian Games.Updated: Dec 07, 2019 23:08 IST
Weeks after reports of the involvement of senior players Amjyot Singh and Arshpreet Bhullar in a drunken brawl in Bangalore, Indian basketball is facing another controversy as its most recognised star, Satnam Singh Bhamara, has failed a dope test and has been provisionally suspended by the National Anti-doping Authority (NADA). Bhamara has disputed NADA’s findings and has sought to clear his name before the Anti-doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP).
Bhamara, the first Indian to be drafted in the NBA—by Dallas Mavericks in 2015 and played in its G League affiliate Texas Legends—was tested on August 17 and was informed on November 11 that he had returned an adverse analytical finding for higenamine, a beta-2 agonist that is on the World Anti-doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list since 2017. The beta-2 agonists are a class of anabolic performance-enhancing drugs that are used by athletes and bodybuilders and are prohibited at all times, both in and out-of-competition. Higenamine acts as a general stimulant and may be found in some pre-workout, energy, or weight-loss products.
Bhamara failed an out-of-competition test conducted by NADA during a camp at the Sports Authority of India’s Bangalore centre on August 17. His urine sample was tested at the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Doha (Qatar). “The optional provisional suspension commenced on November 19 and Bhamara has withdrawn from the South Asian Games currently under way in Kathmandu,” said a NADA official on condition of anonymity.
Bhamara issued a statement on Saturday through his legal representatives disputing NADA’s charge. “Mr Bhamara has requested a hearing before the NADA Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in order to put forth his case,” the statement said.
The statement said NADA’s communication that Bhamara had been provisionally suspended was misleading as the player had “voluntarily accepted the provisional suspension, vide his communications to NADA”.
“Mr Bhamara is hopeful that his case is adjudicated upon and dispensed with by ADDP within a period of 90 days from the date of conclusion of the result management process, as is mandated under the NADA Anti-Doping Rules, 2015,” the statement added.
NADA sources said Bhamara could probably use the ground that he inadvertently took the drug in his defence. The stimulant is found in pre-workout energy drinks and in many cases is not listed among the ingredients.
If the ADDP finds him guilty, Bhamara could face a four-year ban.
The 7-foot-2-inch player, who hails from Balloke village in Ludhiana, is a product of the Punjab Basketball Academy and came into limelight when he was selected by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to train at the IMG Academy in Florida as a 16-year-old.
He was drafted by the Mavericks in 2015 and represented St John’s Edge in the National Basketball League of Canada last year. He has represented India in several international events.
A four-year ban will severely hamper his prospects of playing in foreign leagues as by the time the suspension—if it comes into effect—is lifted, he will be 27.