In what will come across as shocking news, Subrata Paul has landed in hot water after the failure of a drugs test conducted by the National Anti-Doping agency (NADA).
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), to this effect, has received a written communication from the watchdog informing them of the 30 year-old's sample 'A' test results, though it has been reported that the exact substance in question has not been revealed. It is also unknown if the Indian FA has suspended the Arjuna Awardee, as the world governing body Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) stipulates a player who fails a drug test must be suspended by his/her federation within a week of the result.
Notably, Paul failed to make the starting XI and was an unused substitute in his team's previous fixture, a routing sustained against Bengaluru FC in the top division.
When - The screening was conducted right before India's departure to Cambodia, on March 18th. The test was carried out in Mumbai where the national team, under Stephen Constantine's tutelage, was training ahead of a friendly fixture against Cambodia and an all important Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 group qualifier tie against Myanmar.
Next Step - Paul has within two-weeks from the publishing of the original report by NADA to report to the governing body's office and opt to have his sample 'B' tested.
NADA Result Process - The first sample, usually urine and blood samples, of an athlete are analysed to check for irregularities. Checks are maintained to ensure the sportsman's medication prescriptions, termed Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), are taken into account. If the sample 'A' fails. the National Federation (AIFF), the International Federation (FIFA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are notified of the result, along with the player. Then, NADA will usually provisionally suspend the athlete until an official hearing is scheduled.
In the meantime, the defendant will have the option to execise an option of testing his 'B' sample. If the athlete turns this option down. then the 'B' sample test is conducted anyway, in the presence of an 'Independant Observer.' The failure of this sample, results in the failure of the complete test.
Whatever the process, Paul's name has now been brought into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Enduring another poor season with the Pune-based club, where he has been accused by coach Dave Rogers of poor decision making, the former Mohun Bagan 'keeper, nicknamed Spiderman, seems to have snagged himself in a web that;s too complicated to untangle.
The Sodepur-born goalie joins an infamous list of Indian footballers who have failed a doping test. In 2011, Nishant Mehra tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, a banned substance and was censured by NADA for a period of two years. Earlier, in 2002, Arun Malhotra crossed the dreaded Rubicon right before the Asian Games at Busan, South Korea.
Recently, Dane Pereira was suspended by NADA for failing a drugs test when contracted by Mumbai FC.
The Indian football diaspora will watch with bated breath as Paul - a decorated Tata Football Academy (TFA) graduate who has won multiple Nehru Cups (2007, 2009) and the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Challenge Cup 2008 - puts up his defense.