It isn’t the way anyone wants to make history, but history was made all the same. In a first for Indian sports, 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist and reigning national champion weightlifter, Pardeep Singh has tested positive for the human Growth Hormone (hGH). Following the test, Singh, a Railways employee, has been provisionally banned for four years.
Director general of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), Navin Agarwal said that this was the first time an Indian athlete has tested positive for hGH. Information regarding his failed test had been given to Singh in March itself, however it was kept out of public domain until Tuesday, in compliance with the laid down procedure, which grants an option of B-sample testing, which got delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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This is the first instance of detecting this in a blood sample from the time NADA has started testing,” Agarwal said.
“We had informed the concerned federation and the weightlifter in March just before the lockdown. Because of the B sample issue, whether they wanted to do it or not, we could not disclose it publicly immediately,” he added.
hGH is used by athletes to increase lean body mass and reduce total body fat. A WADA study has also found that hGH repairs tissues faster and is consumed with other performance enhancing drugs to produce better outcomes.
The weightlifter’s blood sample was taken at a camp at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala, last December, during a surprise collection and was subsequently sent to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Doha, as the Delhi-based National Dope Test laboratory is under suspension.
Singh in the meanwhile, won the gold medal for the 102 kg weight category at the National Championships in Kolkata in February, after he had lifted a total of 346 kg (152 kgs in snatch, a personal best and 195 kgs in clean and jerk).
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NADA notified the federation in March about Singh’s positive test for hGH. An official of the federation said that following the information, the weightlifter was immediately dispatched from the camp.
Agarwal also averred that the NADA had been alerted earlier about some athletes using hGH as a performance enhancer. “The usage of this drug wasn’t there earlier. But we had received some reports stating that it is being used in India. So we were on the lookout for quite some time,” he said. “The athlete has been handed a provisional suspension of four years right now.”