The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), on Tuesday, banned 400m hurdles National Open champion and a South Asian Games silver medallist in 2016, Jithin Paul, for four years for possessing meldonium, reported Indian Express.

Vials containing the internationally banned drug were found last April by the anti-doping officials in Jithin’s room at the National Institute of Sports campus in Patiala. The test results produced by the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in New Delhi confirmed the presence of meldonium.

The drug, which was added to World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list from January 1, 2016, became popular after tennis star Maria Sharapova was penalised for its possession.

Vials of carnitene — commonly prescribed for weight loss and fat burning — and injections of Mnaapohat were also recovered from Paul’s room in April last year. Injections were also seized from Paul’s roommate, Muhammed Kunju, also part of the 400 metre squad, but tests did not detect any prohibited substance.

In June, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) sacked the 400m coach Mohammed Kunhi from his post.

“After considering all the written/oral submissions of the parties and evidence presented by both the sides, the panel concludes that athlete Mr Jithin Paul was in possession of Prohibited Substance meldonium and violated Article 2.6 of the Anti-Doping rules of NADA 2015,” the newspaper quoted the disciplinary panel’s order.

“In the present case, the athlete has been found in possession of Prohibited Substance in his room at the National Institute of Sport, Patiala, during search conducted by NADA on 17th April, 2017 and the athlete had no reasonable justification for possession of the prohibited substance in his room.”

Paul’s lawyer Parth Goswami said that the athlete would take the case to the anti-doping appeal panel.

“The (disciplinary) panel has not considered vital aspects of this case in their order. Casual clarifications of NADA on crucial issues have been accepted and statements in defence of the athlete by international level athletes and coaches made on affidavits have been ignored without any reasoning. We will definitely appeal against this order,” Goswami was quoted by the newspaper.