By Paritosh Pramanik:
INDIAN goalkeeper Akash Chikte, who was suspended by Hockey India for a dope violation, is a relieved man. He was banned for two years by National Anti Doping (NADA) for inadvertently taking banned substance in February 2018. After appealing the decision, the anti-doping panel, on Thursday reduced the ban to 13 months. The star India goalkeeper, who works with BEG Pune, had contested the duration of the ban as he claimed that he took the banned substance unknowingly. He provided all the necessary documents to the Anti Doping Appeal Panel to prove himself clean.
On Thursday, ADAP said in a statement, “We are in agreement with the findings of the Disciplinary Panel that the sportsperson has been able to establish that he did not commit the anti-doping violation intentionally.” The panel has reduced the ban from two years to 13 months stating, “Appellants provisional suspension, i.e. 27.03.2018 is modified to a period of 13 months from the date of his provisional suspension. We however, confirm the sanction under Article 10.8 of disqualification of all other competitive results obtained by the Athlete from the date of provisional suspension with all resulting consequences including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes till the end of the ineligibility period of 13 months.”
The Panel comprised Vibha Datta Makhija, Chairperson, Harsh Mahajan and Vinay Lamba, both members. Chikte’s case was pleaded by Advocates Phalper and Parth Goswami. An elated and relieved Chikte said he was confident of coming out clean as he had not done anything wrong. “I was confident that the ban would be reduced. I have never taken any banned substance in my life and would never do,” said Chikte over phone from Yavatmal. “This one year was one of the most painful for me. Staying away from hockey was like hell. In the beginning I was really down but then I decided to fight. I decided to remain fit so that when I return I would be in proper shape,” said the Yavatmal-born Indian custodian. During the ban period, Chikte himself made a weekly training chart and followed it religiously. He never gave a miss to his training session, be it at 5 in the morning or 1.30 in the middle of the night.
“I wanted to be back in the Indian team. I did all this hard work to prove that I am still the same what I was a year back,” said Chikte, the 2016 Asian Men’s Champions Trophy gold medal winner. Chikte tested positive for banned anabolic steroid (Norandrosterone) during an out-of-competition test during the senior team’s hockey camp in Bengaluru on February 27. He was provisionally suspended by NADA from March 27 and the minimum sanction of two years was imposed by the ADDP. But he challenged the decision. The Panel found that the dope test on 27.02.2018 was an out of competition test, and thus the intention to cheat cannot be inferred in this case.
“The source of AAF has been verifiably explained by the Appellant on production of prescription and invoices dated 02.02.2018,” the Panel stated. Chikte had taken an injection for an injury in his index finger of left foot. He never knew that the injection contained banned substance. It was proved that Chikte neither sought Therapeutic Use Exemption Certificate (TUE Certificate) nor did he mention about the injection taken on the Doping Control Form.
He was able to establish during the hearing that he had no knowledge of the injection prescribed by the physician, whom he consulted in Pune. The Panel in its judgement, a copy of which is in possession of ‘The Hitavada’, also stated that “the reason for not obtaining TUE due to emergency medical condition suffered by his father on 09.02.2018 is also substantiated by verifiable documents of his father’s treatment record.” The most important observation the Panel made was that “during the 11 year sporting record, the Appellant has not suffered a single AAF despite innumerable dope tests.” Chikte has completed the 13 months ban period and is eligible to play competitive hockey. Chikte’s immediate assignment now will be the Laxmi Ammal Memorial 11th All India Hockey Tournament in Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu which starts May 16. “This will be my first tournament in more than a year. I will give my best to attract the selectors’ attention back,” concluded Chikte.