The Anti Doping Appeal Panel (ADAP) has upheld the one-year sanction imposed on India's top quarter-milers with a rider that paves the way for them to take part in the Olympic trials.
The date of the sample collection of four athletes -- Ashwini Akkunji, Sini Jose, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar -- for doping, was June 2011, but they were handed one-year ban sentence in December 2011.
Had the date of commencement of the tenure of their ban started from the date when they were handed the sentence, the athletes would have missed the trials for the London Games.
India's top women quarter-milers were each handed one-year ban by a NADA disciplinary panel, headed by retired district judge Dinesh Dayal, in December 2011 after they were caught using banned steroids.
All the four athletes had subsequently filed appeals to the Justice Mahajan-led Appeals panel against the one-year ban, which virtually ruled all of them out of Olympics.
But coming to the rescue of these athletes, the ADAP has now decided to uphold the sanction and consider the ban tenure from the day their samples were collected, according to a NADA release.
Sini Jose's date of sample collection for doping was June 12, 2011, while Ashwini and Priyanka's collection date was June 27, 2011 and Tiana Mary's dates were June 12 and 27 last year.
As per ADAP's decision, the athletes' ban would end by the end of June this year and they would be able to compete in the trials, which could give them a chance to qualify for the Games, to be held from July 27 to August 12.
Earlier though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had demanded for an enhanced two-year ban for all these athletes.
Stating that appeals panel had back-dated the start of the ban to June, Director General of NADA Rahul Bhatnagar said, "The panel has chosen the date of sample collection as the date for commencement of the ban period, as it enables the athletes to train and compete in the forthcoming Olympic trials."
The athletes had earlier pleaded innocence and blamed the food supplements recommended by their Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogorodnik for failing their dope tests.
Ogorodnik was then sacked from his post last July.
Akkunji and Jose were part of the women's 4x400m relay team that won the gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.
Akkunji had also won a gold in the Asian Games 400m hurdles.