The National Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday issued a notice to ace Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat for “apparent failure” to comply with the whereabouts requirements of the Anti-Doping Rules, and give her two weeks to respond. Notably, Vinesh was among the wrestlers who protested against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, against whom allegations of sexual harassment were made. The reigning Asian Games champion Phogat was also supposed to be making her return to competitive wrestling at the Budapest Ranking Series 2023 starting from Thursday, as per Olympics.com.
“I am writing to give you formal notice to notify you of your apparent failure to comply with the whereabouts requirements of the ADR, and to invite you to make any comments before we come to a final decision on the matter. Please read this letter carefully, as it may have serious consequences for you,’ said the notice from NADA.
“By email dated 08-March-2022 & 12-December-2022, we advised you that you have been included in our Registered Testing Pool, and therefore that under the ADR you are required to make a whereabouts filing at the beginning of each quarter, providing certain specified information about your whereabouts each day in the forthcoming quarter, and are further required to be available for testing at those declared whereabouts, in accordance with the International Standard for Result
Management (ISRM) Article B.2.4,” added the notice.
The notice also said that Vinesh had declared to be available for testing at Sonipat, Haryana in her recent Whereabouts Filing on June 27 at 10:00 PM.
“We sent Doping Control Officers (“DCOs”) to test you on that day at that time and place. However, the DCO was unable to locate you for testing as you were not available at the given location,” the notice added.
The notice said that as per their review of the file, it appeared that “all elements of a missed test” were present in the case.
“It, therefore, appears that you have committed a whereabouts failure under the ADR,” the notice added.
The notice urged Vinesh to respond within 14 days and accept that she had committed a Whereabouts Failure or if not, explain her reasoning in detail.
“For example, if you claim you were present at the location specified for the specified 60-minute time slot for the day in question, please provide any corroborating evidence and comment on why the DCO was unable to find you for Testing. lf you were not present, but claim that your absence (and your failure to update your whereabouts filing to reflect that
absence) was not due to any negligence on your part, please explain the basis of that claim in full. You should enclose copies of all documents or other evidence on which you seek to rely in your explanation,” added the notice.
Following that, a reassessment of her case will be done to find out if “all elements of missed test” are present in the case.
“If we determine that each element is present, you will be given further notice and an opportunity to ask for a further review of the case before a final determination is made,” the notice added.
One Whereabouts Failure (whether a filing failure or missed test) does not on its own constitute an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) under ADR. Instead, there should be three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period for that, said the notice.
“According to your file, no Whereabouts Failures have been recorded against you in the last 12 months. Therefore, if a further Whereabouts Failure (failure to fill the whereabouts or missed tests or both) is declared against you, as a result of this current
process, you will have one (1) Whereabouts Failure recorded against you,” the notice continued.
“Where 3 whereabouts failures are recorded against you in any 12-month period, you may be charged with an ADRV under the ADR. The burden will be on NADA India to prove to the satisfaction of the hearing panel that you have committed the 3 alleged whereabouts failures. If it does so, the hearing panel will have the discretion to impose a period of ineligibility
on you of 12 to 24 months (more, if this is not your first offence). You will have the right to dispute any or all of the alleged whereabouts failures at the hearing. However, your defence may be undermined if it depends upon alleged facts that you raise for the first time at the hearing, i.e. that you have not raised in response to this letter. Therefore, you are strongly
advised to raise any facts that you believe are relevant now, in response to this letter,” the notice added.
The letter on a concluding note, urged Vinesh to consider it carefully and respond within 14 days.
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