New Delhi: National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) has banned Athlete Jithin Paul for four years after it was found that the 400-metre hurdler was in possession of a prohibited substance called ‘Meldonium’. Paul, who is a 400m hurdles National Open champion and a 2016 South Asian Games silver medallist, becomes first Indian athlete to be sanctioned for such an offence.

“The panel concludes that athlete Mr, Jithin Paul was in possession of prohibited substance i.e. Meldonium and violated the Article 2.6 of the Anti Doping rules of NADA 2015,” NADA said in an official statement.

The statement further notified that the athlete has been found in possession of Meldonium in his room at National Institute of Sports, Patiala, Punjab, during the search by NADA in April 2017.

The Anti Doping agency clarified that Paul had no reasonable justification of the prohibited substance in his room.

What is “Meldonium”?

Since January 2016, Meldonium has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of substances banned from use by athletes because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.

On March 7, 2016, former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova was handed a 15-month ban as she failed a drug test in Australia due to the detection of meldonium.

(With ANI inputs).