In ISL news, Indian international defender Ashutosh Mehta, who plays for Indian giants ATK Mohun Bagan, has become the first Indian Super League (ISL) player to be handed a ban for doping.
He has been suspended for a couple of years by the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for flopping a dope test. Mehta tested positive for morphine (narcotics) — specified substance — during the in-competition test conducted on February 8 as he played an ISL match in Goa.
The 31-year-old player had also initially accepted a provisional suspension on June 24, which was optional in his case. Mehta implored that he did not intend to consume a narcotic substance and wanted the usefulness of a vital assistance clause.
In his defence, Mehta claimed that his team member “allegedly administered him with opium, a source of morphine in the form of ‘Kaala Daba’ [which translates to ‘Black Medicine’] in the pretext of it being an Ayurvedic Medicine”. Meanwhile, in its order, the NADA panel wrote, “…it is held that the athlete has violated Art 2.1 and 2.2 of NADA ADR 2021.
Furthermore, the panel believes that the anti-doping violation was unintentional. We accordingly hold that the athlete is liable for a period of ineligibility of two years.”
The NADA Panel demanded that Mehta should be given credit for his temporary suspension. NADA handed former Indian goalkeeper Subrata Pual a similar interim suspension in 2017 after having tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition test conducted during a national camp.
However, he was let off later with caution after proving that his dope violation was not intentional. During that time, Paul played for I-League side DSK Shivajians, although he did play in the ISL the year before.
Ashutosh Mehta is a familiar face of Indian football and made his India debut under coach Igor Stimac in March 2021 against Oman. The match ended 1-1 and remains his sole appearance for the Indian team.
At the club level, Mehta played as a right back for Mohun Bagan last season while making appearances in 15 matches. This was also his third stint with the Kolkata club as he earlier played for their old outfit ATK in 2017-18 season and then for Mohun Bagan in I-League in 2019-20. The defender has featured in all ISL seasons since its inception in 2014.
Among other clubs, Mehta appeared for Pune City FC in the inaugural season of ISL and went on to play for Mumbai City FC between 2015-17. He also played in I-League for Mumbai FC and Aizawl, with whom he also win the historic title in 2017. He went back to Pune City for a season in 2018 and played a season for NorthEast United FC in 2019 as well before moving back to Bagan.
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