Gomathi Marimuthu, who won the 800 metres gold at the Asian Championships last month, was on Tuesday handed a provisional suspension after being tested positive for a banned substance.
The ‘A’ sample of the 30-year-old runner from Tamil Nadu, who clocked 2 minutes and 2.70 seconds to win the gold on April 22, has returned positive for a steroid in the test conducted during the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.
If her ‘B’ sample also tests positive, she faces a maximum ban of four years – as this will be her first doping offence – while India will lose a gold medal from the Asian Championships. India had won three gold, seven silver and as many bronze medals in the Asian Championships.
“Yes, Gomathi has tested positive for a steroid and she has been placed under provisional suspension,” a top official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
It is learnt that Gomathi had earlier tested positive for a banned substance in the sample the National Anti-Doping Agency collected in Patiala during the March 15-18 Federation Cup but was not communicated by the national anti-doping watchdog on time.
“We have learnt that Gomathi also tested positive in the sample taken during the Federation Cup which was held in mid-March. But that report is yet to reach us even now, after more than two months. That report is on the way, we have told.
“If the report was handed to us on time, she would have been stopped from taking part in the Asian Championships and the country would have been saved from this humiliation.
“We have no idea why the NADA did not inform us on Gomathi’s dope positive result to us before the Asian Championships. There was more than one month’s time in between,” the AFI official said.
Gomathi has been on the national circuit for some time but her timing has been mediocre. Not a national camper, Gomathi’s 2:03.21 performance that gave her a gold in the Federation Cup in March raised questions over her sudden improvement.
“She was not in the national camp and that is why we have been emphasising on the requirement that athletes who have to take part in the international events should be from the national camp,” the official said.
Calls to NADA director general Navin Agarwal were not answered.