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NADA bans top Indian athlete

Over 20 syringes of banned substance meldonium was found in the athlete's hostel room.

IANS | New Delhi |

A top Indian athlete has been handed a provisional suspension by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) after testing positive for banned performance enhancing substance meldonium.

Talking to a news channel, NADA Director General Naveen Agarwal said that the athlete was handed the provisional suspension on Monday but refused to disclose the athlete's name.

He, however, disclosed that over 20 syringes of the banned substance were found in the athlete's hostel room at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala.

The athlete was member of the Indian squad at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.

According to Agarwal, NADA has told the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to ask the athlete to leave the national camp currently underway at NIS, Patiala, until he can prove his innocence.

A team of NADA officials conducted a surprise search at NIS, Patiala, last month after receiving information that some of the athletes at the ongoing national camp were using banned performance enhancing substances.

The raid at the NIS hostel was carried out while the athletes were away for their daily practice session.

Consumption of meldonium enhances the body's capacity to absorb oxygen and increases the endurance levels of an athlete. 

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had announced in September 2015 that meldonium would be a banned substance from January 1, 2016.

Russian star Maria Sharapova, former World No.1 in the women's tennis circuit, had also tested positive for the same substance at the  2016 Australian Open on January 26.

She was originally suspended for two years on June 8, 2016. But the ban was later reduced to 15 months following a WADA hearing on October 4, 2016.