Indian basketball player Satnam Singh Bhamara, who was provisionally suspended by the Nada after he failed a dope test last month, on Saturday disputed the charge levelled against him and said that he was and remains a clean athlete.
Bhamara, the first Indian player to be drafted into an NBA team in 2015, returned positive in an out-of-competition test conducted in Bangalore by the National Anti-Doping Agency during the preparatory camp for the South Asian Games. He was provisionally suspended on November 19.
The prohibited substance found from Bhamara’s ‘A’ sample of his urine is not known.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the 23-year-old Bhamara said he has requested the Nada for a hearing by its Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and to decide his case within three months.
“Bhamara had received a notice from Nada dated 11.11.2019 stating that Bhamara has failed a doping test for a prohibited substance. Bhamara is disputing the said charge and has requested a hearing before the Nada Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in order to put forth his case,” the statement said.
“Bhamara would like to state that he was and remains a clean competitor and has always played basketball fairly,” it read.
The statement did not mention whether he has waived his right to request for a ‘B’ sample test. But it is learnt that Bhamara had not asked for a ‘B’ sample test, preferring to directly face the ADDP. He is expected to plead before the Nada’s ADDP that he had inadvertently taken the prohibited substance.
He also said that he had voluntarily decided to accept the provisional suspension which the Nada said was imposed on November 19.
“Bhamara wishes to clarify that the reports in the media about Bhamara being provisionally suspended by Nada are misleading and that it is Bhamara who has voluntarily accepted the provisional suspension vide his communications to Nada.”
“...Bhamara is hopeful that his case is adjudicated upon and dispensed with by ADDP, within a period of ninety (90) days from the date of conclusion of result management process, as is mandated under the Nada Anti-Doping Rules, 2015.”
If Bhamara is found guilty of doping by the ADDP, he faces a maximum ban of four years for a first time offender. Bhamara pulled out of the 13th South Asian Games which began on December 1, citing personal reasons. The 7-foot-2-inch player was training at the SAI Centre, Bangalore for the South Asian Games.
In 2015, Bhamara created history when he was picked in the NBA draft by Dallas Mavericks. He went on to play the next two years in the Development League with Texas Legends, an affiliate of Dallas Mavericks.
After returning to India for a year, Bhamara again created history in September 2018 by becoming the first Indian cager to play in the National Basketball League of Canada after signing a deal with St John’s Edge.
He has represented India in major tournaments like Asian Championships, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.