MP All-Rounder Anshula Rao Suspended For Four Years For Failing A Dope Test

Anshula Rao has earned the distinction of being the first cricketer to be banned by NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) since BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) came under its purview. The Madhya Pradesh all-rounder was handed a four-year ban by the ADDP (Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel) after testing positive for the banned substance, 19-Norandrosterone.

Rao, who has been part of the MPCA (Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association), an affiliate of BCCI, last participated in the U-23 T20 Trophy in 2019-2020. In her last match, she opened the bowling and batting. Rao was representing MP in various competitions in different age formats. But all this came to a standstill when she failed her drug test on March 14, 2020.

These test results came out just as the COVID crisis was turning into a global pandemic, thus thwarting efforts by Rao to get an independent test done by a certified lab in Belgium. Furthermore, she was forced to fundraise to meet the exorbitant costs of sending her Sample B overseas during the global lockdown. This effort to challenge the initial results backfired, as the Belgian lab also found traces of the anabolic steroid 19-Norandrosterone in her sample.

The ADDP, composed of lawyer Gaurang Kanth(Chairman), Dr. Rana Chengappa, and sportsman Akhil Kumar, concluded that there was no evidence that Rao may have ingested the steroid unknowingly. They thus imposed a four-year ban beginning in March 2020. They emphasized that the onus of ensuring no banned substances enter the body lies squarely on the athlete.

Rao, in her defense, cast doubts on the process by highlighting the four-month lag between the test and the NADA officially charging her. She also sought redress for the “grave prejudices” she suffered as she was forced to cough up “unreasonable and exorbitant costs” (2,400 Euros) to have her sample ferried to and tested in Belgium.

BCCI had initially refused to cede control of dope testing its athletes to the NADA, but the ministry of sports compelled the BCCI to fall under NADA’s ambit. Before BCCI complied, it was the only cricket board not under its official national anti-doping agency. NADA is affiliated with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), the body accredited to test athletes across all disciplines for prohibited substances.

Although BCCI was also testing their samples in a WADA accredited lab in Delhi, the ministry opened discussions between BCCI and NADA, culminating with BCCI complying to let NADA take over.

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