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Rediff.com  » Sports » Banned stimulant may have been taken inadvertently: Expert

Banned stimulant may have been taken inadvertently: Expert

Last updated on: September 14, 2010 17:27 IST

The Indian athletes who recently tested positive for Methylhexaneamine may have a case when they claimed that the banned stimulant could have entered their body even without their knowledge, according to a sports medicine expert.

Sports Medicine experts say that many of the products used by the athletes do not mention the composition. With very few medical staff to educate them, athletes do not know whether they are using banned substances or not.

"This is a drug that athletes may have been using for a long time. They weren't even aware of it and must not have done it intentionally. Nobody takes a chance ... this new salt of the Methylhexaneamine was introduced in the WADA list only in January this year," sports medicine expert and former SAI Director (sports medicine) PSM Chandran said.

He said he had examined one of the face pack products, which could have been used by female athletes and found that they did not carry generic name of stimulant Methylhexaneamine that is present in these products.

Shot-putter Saurabh Vij, who also tested positive for Methylhexaneamine had put the blame on geranium oil present in his face pack and the oil for face and body massage and Chandran does not rule it out.

"Geranium oil or the massage oil is freely available in the market. Methylhexaneamine may be present in this oil but that is not mentioned when you buy it and so you don't know you are actually using a banned substance," Chandran said.

Methylhexaneamine, classified by WADA as a banned substance only this year, increases alertness, delays fatigue and has a role in fat loss.

It is also used as a nasal decongestant and is popular in some countries as a party pill used as component of geranium oil approved for use in foods. It is claimed to be classified as a dietary supplement rather than a pharmaceutical product.

According to Chandran, awareness imparted to athletes on banned substances is not enough and more needs to be done to educate them how they have to be careful in using products whose composition is not known.

"Information needs to be given to athletes and more manpower needs to be brought in to disperse it," he said.

Lack of trained medical personnel and providing half baked information are something Chandran said has aggravated the problem.

Also doctors keeping on updating on the every addition in the WADA list may also not be feasible, Chandran added.

To the misfortune of the athletes tested positive for methylhexaneamine, Chandran said they are unlikely to get reduction in penalty even if they plead for inadvertent use of the banned stimulant before NADA disciplinary panel.

"In case of specified subtances the athletes may get their penalty reduced by proving that they had used them inadvertently. But in case of non-specified substances like methylhexaneamine, there is little chance of penalty being reduced even if you plead inadvertent use," he said.

The stimulant was discovered, Chandran said when lab testing was done for a group of atheletes by WADA they found a salt that was not in their list and was found to enhance performance.

Recently, 18 players, including Commonwealth Games squad members, had failed the dope test with 12 of them testing positive for the same substance -- Methylhexanamine.

Arjuna awardee wrestler Rajiv Tomar, weightlifter Sanamacha Chanu, swimmers Richa Mishra and Jyotsana Pansare and shotputter Saurabh Vij were among those tested positive for the same banned substance methylhexaneamine.

The drug reportedly first had come under the anti-doping domain last year when five Jamaican athletes were found positive.

Yohan Blake, Marvin Anderson, Allodin Fothergill and Lanceford Spence and Sheri-Ann Brooks were the runners were initially reprieved by the hearing panel but on appeal, all except Brooks, were given three-month suspensions.

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