Boxer Parveen Hooda's suspension forces India to concede Olympic quota

Parveen Hooda
Parveen has to now serve a 14-month suspension starting today. File photo: PTI/Gurinder Osan

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

Parveen was handed a 22-month suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The 2022 World Championships bronze medallist, who booked 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 agencies concerned, Parveen's sanction has been back-dated and she has to now serve a 14-month suspension starting today.

"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."

This 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 athlete not the country.

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 for the women's 57kg weight 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.

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 1 year depending on your degree of fault."

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 form ITA, which is overseeing the anti-doping programme for boxing at the Olympics.

"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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