Weightlifter Pardeep Singh, who has been suspended after failing a dope test, was on the National Anti-Doping Agency’s radar for a while before his blood sample was collected last December following a tip-off, Nada Director General Navin Agarwal said on Wednesday.

Singh, a Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, is the first case of an athlete’s blood sample returning positive for the banned human Growth Hormone hGH and has been provisionally suspended for one year.

“This is not the first case of hGH being used by an Indian athlete (found in urine sample) but certainly the first time it has been found in the blood sample. We had a tip off that hGH is being used by some athletes. So, Pardeep Singh was a part of our targeted testing,” Agarwal told PTI on Wednesday.

Singh’s blood sample was collected out of competition during a camp in Patiala last December and result of the A sample, which came in March, found him positive for hGH.

However, the agency waited for the B sample findings before going public with the result.

According to British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Athletes and bodybuilders claim that hGH increases lean body mass and decreases the fat mass. International federations and the International Olympic Committee have had hGH on the list of forbidden compounds since 1989.”

Agarwal said since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, the agency is not collecting blood samples. A lot of that has got to do with the suspension of National Dope Testing Laboratory.

“Right now, we are not collecting blood samples as transportation is difficult. There are logistical issues,” Agarwal stated.

Since samples are now sent to World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited labs in foreign countries, the current ban on international flights hampers blood sample collection.