Malappuram: A young athlete from Ernakulam, who was reported for a doping offense at the recent State Schools Athletics Championship held in Pala, has tested positive for heptaminol, a prohibited substance, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) confirmed on Wednesday.
According the NADA, his urine sample collected during the state school meet was found to contain the stimulant, which is on the banned drug list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
He has been directed to appear before the agency in a week’s time. The NADA has also written to the State Education Department, seeking strict enforcement of relevant rules to deal with the doping menace.
The athlete, whose identity is withheld since the offense is not fully proved, is a tenth standard student of a government school in Ernakulam. He had won two gold and a silver in the junior category at the state championship, but failed to win any medal at the subsequent National Junior School Meet in Bhopal.
He is entitled for a fair hearing and appeal on any decision regarding the positive test. But if the ‘B’ sample tests also comes out to be positive, he would face the prospect of being banned for two to four years. Moreover, the State Education Department can strip him of the medals he won at the state meet.
This is the first time in the history of the State Schools Athletics Championship that an athlete is being caught by the regulatory authorities for doping.
Heptaminol hydrochloride is commonly used in the treatment of low blood pressure, particularly orthostatic hypotension. It is classified as a doping substance. In 2008, cyclist Dmitriy Fofonov was tested positive for heptaminol at the Tour de France. Though Indian pharmaceutical companies do not manufacture medicines that contain Heptaminol, it is easily available in countries such as Thailand.
Better endurance, performance
In the WADA’s prohibited list of banned substances heptaminol is classified under the ‘Specified Stimulant’ category. It is a cardiac stimulant with predominantly positive inotropic actions. It would stimulate the central nervous system, relax muscles and increase the blood pressure. By preventing fatigue in nervous and muscle system, it would help athletes improve their endurance and performance.
Meanwhile, the accused has claimed that he was innocent. “I had taken some medicines after contracting jaundice twice recently. Also, some days before the state school meet, I picked up a cut injury and received a tetanus shot. I didn’t use any medicines other than those prescribed by the doctors," he said adding that he did not receive any message from the NADA.
“The report came as a big shock. There are 20 athletes who train under me. I’m totally against performance enhancers,” said his coach.
Dr. Chacko Joseph, joint director, State School Sports, said the authorities are waiting for the final test results from the NADA. “Stringent measures would be initiated if charges against him are proved,” he said.