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Fall from grace for Neelam Singh

August 13, 2005 21:11 IST

The positive test for using a banned stimulant has blotted an otherwise glittering career of Neelam Jaswant Singh that saw her rise to one of the top 30 discus throwers in the world.

The 34-year-old, who has many firsts to her credit, was the first Indian woman athlete to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games when she won the silver in the last edition of the Games at Manchester.

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The positive test for banned stimulant pemoline at the world championship in Helsinki on August 7, has led to Neelam being provisionally suspended by the IAAF.

On being informed about the positive test, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said Neelam will be asked to appear before the Medical Commission to explain her position.

"Neelam has been provisionally suspended following the finding. She will be asked to appear before AFI's medical commission to give explanation before any sanction is determined in accordance with the anti-doping rules of IAAF," AFI Secretary Lalit Bhanot said in a press release.

"AFI will complete the laid down procedure and will take strict action as per rules," he said.

The sanction for a first-time violation for pemoline is a minimum of  two years.

This was Neelam's fourth consecutive appearance in the world championships after competing in Seville (1999), Edmonton (2001) and Paris (2003), where she became the first Indian to reach the final before Anju Bobby George eclipsed her feat, winning the bronze medal in women's long jump.

She also competed in two Olympics -- in Sydney and Athens. At the Asian level, Neelam won the bronze medal at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games and took the top honours in the last Games in Busan in 2002 with her personal best performance of 64.55m.

One of India's consistent performers at the international level, Neelam, if sanctioned will miss next month's Asian Championships in Korea and next year's Asian Games in Doha.

Neelam's positive test is the first big case involving an Indian athlete after the doping scandal involving middle distance runner Sunita Rani in the Busan Asian Games.

Reacting to the news, a top sports medicine expert said Neelam's positive dope test only proved that doping is rampant among Indian athletes.

"We were caught earlier at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics. Only the World Athletics Championships was left and now we have scored there also," he said.

"The war against doping cannot be won. It can only be curbed by sanctions and other punishments," he added.


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