Dissolved NAA, coaches demand fresh probe

Kathmandu, November 28:

The doping scandal of the 10th South Asian Games double gold medallist Rajendra Bhandari took a new turn when the dissolved Nepal Athletics Association (NAA) alleged the National Sports Council (NSC) member secretary Jeevan Ram Shrestha as the chief culprit.

The NAA, led by former member secretary Kishor Bahadur Singh, demanded the government to form a high-level probe committee to dig out the truth. The NSC-formed panel accused four persons — Singh, director of Nepal-German Athletics Development Project Gunter Lange and coaches Sushil Narsingh Rana and Narayan Pradhan — of giving the banned drugs to Bhandari. The NSC had formed a probe committee under its vice president Sita Ram Maskey after the Nepali Army middle distance runner tested positive during the SAG held in Sri Lanka from August 18-28.

“Most of the procedures adopted by the probe committee is unscientific as they never tried to reach the depth of the issue and we demand the Nepal government to form a new committee to punish the real culprits,” said Singh at a press meet. Singh also informed that the NAA was planning to file writ against the NSC for defaming them.

“Jeevan Ram Shrestha, Sita Ram Maskey, Dr Ajay Rana, Col Binod Bista, and Partha Sarathi Sen Gupta are the persons who should be punished. “Dr Rana is the ones to refer the athletes to the National Reference Laboratory in New Baneswore for biochemistry investigation but later denied of sending the players there saying the tests were done to find out the doping level,” Singh said.

On Col Bista, Singh said that the Army officer was smart enough to allege Lange of coming to Nepal to experiment the banned drugs and their effect on athletes. “Bista’s version on Lange was not within the line of Nepal’s diplomatic relation with Germany,” said Singh. The NAA also alleged Gupta, director of National Institute of Sports and a member of the probe committee, of providing the wrong information to the committee. “Lange was never involved in the SAG training and Gupta accused him of interfering in the athletes’ training,” Singh said.

Coach Rana was also furious over the NSC and the probe committee. “The whole process is farcical,” said Rana. “The probe committee never intended to find the reality,” he accused. “Instead of being biased against us, they should have tried to find out the real persons involved and the root causes,” he said. Coach Rana also accused the probe committee of trying to convince him against Lange. “I was asked not to take the responsibility of the vitamins provided to the athletes by the project, but I stood firm to the reality and became their victim,” he said.

The NAA also denied the report about the drugs used by Rajendra Bhandari. “The committee said that the drugs used by Bhandari was not available in the local market, but we found the drug (Deca-Durabolin) that contained 19 Nandrolone — which was found in Bhandari’s urine sample — easily available in the city,” said the NAA producing the bill of the drug sold to a customer. They also claimed that the drug, which is categorised in Group B by Medicine Department under Health Ministry, is available if prescribed by medical practitioner.