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Boxer's Olympic dream dashed by whereabouts failures

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 17, 2024 17:09 IST
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Parveen's suspension forces India to concede Oly quota; to fight afresh for 57kg in final qualifiers

Praveen Hooda

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Boxing Federation of India/

In an unprecedented embarrassment for Indian boxing, the country will fight afresh for qualification in the women's 57kg category after being forced to surrender the quota on Friday owing to holder Parveen Hooda's international suspension for three whereabout failures in 12 months.

Hooda was handed a 22-month suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Friday.

The 2022 world championship bronze-medallist boxer, who fetched the Olympic quota with an Asian Games bronze last year, failed to file her whereabouts in the period from April 2022 to March 2023 as per WADA rules.

"Parveen Hooda has been suspended for 22 months by the International Testing Agency (ITA) for Whereabouts Failures," the Boxing Federation of India said in a media release.

However, after discussion with the concerned agencies, Parveen's sanction has been back-dated and she has to now serve a 14-month suspension starting Friday.

"Pursuant to multiple discussions and representations, the ITA has proposed a sanction on Parveen, entailing the imposition of an ineligibility period of 22-months, which has been now backdated by eight months as compared to initial suspension period of 24 months backdated by six months. In essence the sanction is of 14 months, starting from May 17, 2024."

India loses quota, Jaismine likely to fight for 57kg

The development means Parveen will not be able to compete at the Paris Games in July-August this year. In boxing, a quota is awarded to the country and not to the athlete.

This leaves only three Indian boxers -- Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti (54kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) -- in the Olympic-bound group for now.

With the final Olympic qualifier scheduled to begin on May 24 in Bangkok, India will have another chance to qualify in the 57kg category. But the country can only field reserves who were registered by April 11.

"....which means that only two boxers, named as reserves in 60kg and 66 kg category, are eligible to compete in Bangkok," the BFI stated.

"We exhaustively pursued every avenue and explored all potential solutions to safeguard the Olympic quota and supported Praveen against potential suspension," BFI secretary Hemanta Kalita said.

"Our proactive outreach to ITA and WADA emphasized the unintentional nature of the boxer's actions, particularly given her father's terminal illness," he added.

It is likely that 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jaismine Lamboriya will now fight for the slot as she was listed as the reserve for 60kg event while Manju Bamboriya was named as the 66kg reserve by the BFI for the final qualifiers.

BFI's laxity caused sanction

Whereabouts information (home address, any other location, email address and phone number) is used by anti-doping organisations to locate athletes for effective out-of-competition doping control and testing.

It has been learnt that the sanction was a result of negligence on the part of both the federation and Parveen.

When an athlete fails to enter their whereabouts, the federation is also notified so that it pushes the athlete to fill up the details on time.

"The High Performance Director, the federation and Parveen, all three were aware about the situation but none of them took action," a source privy to the development told PTI.

"No one took responsibility thinking the other will do something about it. Otherwise how will such a thing happen. It has never happened before," he added.

In October last year, it had come to light that Parveen had committed multiple whereabout failures in one-year period and had received a notice from the International Testing Agency, which is overseeing the anti-doping programme for boxing at the Olympics.

In fact when PTI had reached out to the federation at that time, an official had simply stated that BFI did not become not aware of Parveen's repeated failure until after the Asian Games, which went on from September 23 to October 8, 2023.

"The notice was for the period before the Asian Games and the federation got to know about it only after the Games," the official had said at the time.

Athletes included in the Registered Testing Pool (RTP) must provide full address of their overnight location, the name and full address of each location where they train, work or conduct other regular scheduled activities, as well as the usual time-frames of each activity.

RTP athletes must also identify a 60-minute window and location for each day of the quarter, during which they must be available for testing.

Failure to comply with whereabouts and testing obligations results in a whereabouts failure.

According to WADA rules, "any combination of three whereabouts failures (filing failure and/or missed test) within a period of 12 months constitute an anti-doping rule violation, for which the applicable sanction is 2 years' ineligibility subject to a reduction to a minimum of one year depending on your degree of fault."

"While it's regrettable that Parveen won't be able to compete for India and will be serving the suspension, I am happy that we were able to at least reduce the suspension period and she will be back in the ring soon," BFI President Ajay Singh said.

"I also extend my gratitude to all who contributed to securing India's continued representation in this weight category for the Paris Olympics," he added.

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