With as many as three athletes including junior World Champion Neeraj Chopra attending the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships, the javelin throw is India's highest represented sport at the marquee event. Hours ago, Punjab's Davinder Singh Kang registered a throw of 84.22m to become the first ever Indian to qualify for the final of a javelin throw event. However, his road to London was marred by a series of events, which saw the 28-year-old almost miss the tournament, which he proclaimed as 'the most important in his life so far'.
The five-time World Championship attendee's participation for the latest edition was in doubt in June, after National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) found traces of marijuana in his Indian Grand Prix third leg sample from May. A source from NADA told Sportskeeda, "Davinder's May 15 sample from the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix tested positive for traces of Marijuana. The amount exceeded the legal limit of 150 nanograms per millilitre, which is the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) limit. However, upon on his re-examination at the Federation Cup samples came back negative. Hence, we only issued a warning for that period and granted him permission upon his clearance."
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) originally ruled in favour of Davinder, after two back-to-back tests came back negative. A senior AFI office bearer said, "Our main reason for clearing Davinder was that he was only given a notice by NADA and not handed a suspension, hence, for us, it was a no-brainer, especially after his Federation Cup test came back clean. However, we were worried about the image of Indian athletics if another trace of marijuana would be found during the London doping tests."
The primary reason why NADA failed to deliver a suspension was due to WADA's stance on the substance. On August 7, 2016, WADA relaxed its rules with Marijuana stating, 'the goal is to target in competition use and not used outside that time.' This essentially meant that even if Davinder tested positive, he would likely to have been given a clean chit by authorities.
Our source from NADA stated, "Even though it exceeded the legal limit, his following tests came back negative and there was a strong reason stated for his usage. Yes, it is likely that even if it was caught before World's, he could have been given a clean chit."
Marijuana was added to the prescribed banned list in 1997, but its usage as a performance enhancing drug is a debate that continues to rage on within the WADA hierarchy. However, in Davinder's case, despite getting a clean chit from NADA, he was asked by AFI senior officials to not attend the World Championships as it might 'tarnish the reputation' of India.
'He won't win a medal anyway' - AFI Official
According to a source close to Davinder, his tickets were not dispatched till the very last day before his travels as AFI attempted to dissuade him from participation. Th esource said, "Despite getting a clearance, Davinder was not aware till his last day of July 27 whether he was going. He got calls regularly from officials asking him not to go. In fact, during one of the AFI meetings, they discussed whether they should risk him or not as he will not win a medal anyway. How are they sure he won't win? Javelin is our best sport in Athletics, and when Davinder threw his 84.57 m, during the first leg of the Indian Grand Prix, he was given a clean chit. Then why does the AFI think he can't compete when NADA thinks he can."
After a month delay in his tickets, Davinder's calls to AFI officials resulted in buck-passing, which further delayed his training process. Our source added, "Just imagine, a five-time World Championship participant was training for the biggest tournament in his life and he didn't even know whether he was going."
In fact, Davinder even posted about his troubles on social media after receiving his confirmed tickets for London. He said, "I want to send a message to India and Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi), my journey to this competition has been very tough and I was mentally disturbed by the authorities, it was like mental torture. I don't know what is going on, but one thing is for sure, I will give my best."
And the best he did, not only did he outmatch his compatriot Neeraj Chopra, but Davinder also created history by becoming the first ever Indian to qualify for a World Championship in the sport of vavelin. AFI officials were unavailable for a comment, regarding this issue.