SPECIAL REPORT: ‘MICHAEL JORDAN’ OF CARROM INDICTED ON PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG CHARGES IN INDIA
By Hamid Naseem
New Delhi, India — According to anonymous reports that have surfaced yesterday, All-Star New York Yankees third basemen, Alex Rodriguez is not the only big name athlete who recently has been penalized and plagued by performance enhancement drugs (PED). 3-time Carrom Champion, Parbathlal Patel was indicted Thursday morning of doping according to various Indian media outlets.
Patel, 30, who had won the International singles event in 2007, 2011 and 2013 as well as doubles in 2007 and 2009, was indicted on charges that he doped before matches allegedly given to him by Biogenesis founder, Anthony Bosch, the same supplier who administered steroid injections to Rodriguez before baseball games. Patel refutes all charges.
“Outrageous,” said a bewildered but calm Patel responding to the International Carrom Federation’s (ICF) investigation. “I in no way took advantage of the sport by abusing performance enhancing drugs and am disappointed at the charges against me.” Patel who stated he never met Bosch, denied allegations from other Indian Carrom teammates that he drank a Lassee Mule-Kick, a secret concoction among athletes, which composes of yogurt, mango, milk and Dianabol, an anabolic steroid.
“It really is a shame we have to deal with all these great athletes conducting such bad conduct,” said P.J. Swanthankana, an attorney for ICF. “First it was Lance Armstrong and then Alex Rodriguez. Now we have evidence Mr. Patel may be next.” Swanthankana stated he and his legal team would be filing a case in the District Court of Gorakhpur as it would be considered a civil matter.
Carrom is a popular game in South Asia played for relaxation, but also professionally, usually by very smart but uncoordinated clumsy men. The objective of the “sport” is to use a striker disk with a flick of the finger to make contact with lighter disks, which are pushed into one of four corner pockets at the outer edges of a 29 inch square board. The first player to drop all nine of one’s Carrom disks as well as the Queen (disk) wins the game.
Up until 2006 the ICF did not monitor for PED. However, once Carrom matches became nationally televised in 2008 generating billions of rupees, an anti-substance policy and drug test was enforced which prohibited the use of all anabolic steroids. Soon after, Carrom veterans Murtaza Shamsuddin and Mohind Raja failed drug tests, pled guilty for steroid substance abuse and received a 50 game suspension. Although Patel had never failed a drug test, signs were indicating his strength and stamina were increasing.
Multiple players had reported Patel’s increase of velocity on the disks noting that he could play a full set (7 games) and not tire. While fans enjoyed the athleticism Patel possessed, officials regulating the games were questioning his breaks and the trajectory to the angles he was hitting the disks. Said Lalloo Shah, a Carrom ICF referee for 15 years, “He was simply magnificent. Maybe too much. I hadn’t seen such an athlete take over a game since Adrian Peterson entered the NFL. But something wasn’t right.”
His athletic abilities only describe half of the changes. Patel acquaintances have reported his erratic behavior from excessive drinking and karaoking to Lionel Richie songs as well as starting bar brawls including picking a fight last year in Stockholm with NHL Anaheim Ducks Jakob Silfverberg. By far the worst allegation happened earlier this month in Kolkata after his win against Sri Lankan champion Fredrick Singh. As standard after all Indian sporting events, reporters are allowed to meet athletes for interviews in the locker rooms after they have showered. Patel who was only wearing a towel while being questioned by Channel 3 ESPN India reporter Sheila Chatwani on illegal substance abuse, became so infuriated, he removed his towel and asked if she would like “to step up to the mike” for further responses. Chatwani has since filed a lawsuit against Patel for sexual harassment to which he denies and claims that she wanted it.
Patel, a southpaw from Jaipur, was discovered by Carrom scouts in 2001 at his college dormitory playing a game. He was majoring in chemical engineering at the time but was brought into the national farm system at the age of 17. He won the Junior Carrom Championships the following year. Patel went professional in 2003 and garnered many accolades including the nicknames “Killer Queen” and the “Indian Michael Jordan” because of his silky smooth finger shot. Patel was a unanimous choice for Carrom Rookie of the Year. He won his first Golden Thumb in 2004, given to Carrom players who play outstanding defense.
At this time, there are no formal penalties against Patel who plans to compete for the rest of the season. A judicial indictment is not scheduled for another 3 months and even then he has the right to request for a delay. In the meantime, Patel says he will stay focused from the distractions that have been hounding him for the past 5 months. “I’m not going to shy away from this matter and will dispute any allegations against me. I may be small in stature. But it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”