The National Anti Doping Agency’s appeals panel on Tuesday exonerated 400m hurdler Jithin Paul of doping charges, overturning a four-year suspension sentence handed by NADA’s disciplinary panel.

NADA’s Anti Doping Appeals Panel (ADAP), headed by Justice R V Easwar, set aside the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel’s (ADDP) verdict of four-year suspension after the athlete approached the appeals panel.

Paul, an India international, is free to compete from tomorrow. The 28-year old athlete was accused of possessing banned substance meldonium in his room at NIS Patiala during a search and seizure operation carried out by Dope Control Officer (DCO) of NADA.

Paul’s legal team argued that search and seizure can only be conducted by law enforcement agencies such as police, customs etc.

“NADA cannot assume powers of law enforcement agencies. Our stand has been vindicated,” Paul’s advocate Parth Goswami told PTI.

A per law, powers of search and seizure cannot be exercised by NADA, which is not a law enforcement agency.

The lawyers presenting their case before the panel claimed that even WADA had responded to their query by stating that the National Anti Doping Organisations (NADOs) do not have powers to search and seize.