After dope, India hockey goalkeeper Akash Chikte lives in hope
Banned for two years, India hockey goalkeeper Chikte will appeal for ban reduction; claims drug use was unintentional
In May last year, hockey goalkeeper Akash Chikte, had travelled to Kuantan, Malaysia, for the Asian Champions Trophy as a reserve. But as fate would have it, he replaced veteran PR Sreejesh under the bar and despite being a tad nervous, emerged a hero as India beat Pakistan 3-2 in a thrilling final.
This time, as the Indians are busy defending their title in Oman, Chikte is nervous again, but for a reason that has nothing to do with the game. Yesterday, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) handed Chikte a two-year for testing positive for the anabolic steroid, Norandrosterone, at an out-of-competition test during the national team's hockey camp in Bangalore in February.
Chikte has claimed that he took the drug unintentionally after it was prescribed by a Pune physician for an infection. "My father was in hospital during that time and my mind was too preoccupied. I had a toe injury too. I was in a hurry to get well soon myself since my father needed my assistance. That's why I went to a doctor. I explained this to the NADA panel during the hearing [October 8]. I just want everyone to know that I took that drug innocently," Chikte, who represents army outfit BEG (Bombay Engineering Group), told mid-day from Pune yesterday.
"My biggest mistake was that I failed to procure the TUE [Therapeutic Use Exemption] certificate but as I said, I was not in the right frame of mind since my father was seriously ill [with a brain ailment] and in hospital at the time. The last few months have been very tense for me and my family," added Chikte, who has three weeks to appeal to NADA's Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) for a reduction on the ban which began on March 27.
Fit and raring to go
"I'm sure my past clean record will be considered in the appeal. I'm told that there is a strong possibility that my ban will be reduced to one year. I'm hoping and praying for that. I have already recovered from both injuries [neck and toe]. I'm fully fit and currently training at Pune's Balewadi Sports Complex. If my ban is reduced, I will be most grateful as that will mean I can return to playing hockey for my country again," he said.
If Chikte's ban is not reduced, he can still make a return for the all-important Tokyo Olympics (July 24 to August 9, 2020). "The Olympics is my ultimate dream and God-willing I will make it," he signed off.
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