NEW DELHI: Indian goalkeeping great Subrata Paul said he was “speechless” on Wednesday after he failed a drugs test and was warned he could face a four-year ban.
The “Indian Spiderman”, 30, tested positive to a banned substance after a random test by the National Anti-Doping Authority in Mumbai last month.
The goalkeeper, capped 64 times by his country, has denied any wrongdoing, saying he could have ingested terbutaline by accident after taking cold and flu medication.
The World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits the use of terbutaline, used in the relief of asthma symptoms.
“He has tested positive and the punishment is up to four years,” Subrata Dutta, senior vice-president of the All India Football Federation, told Agence France-Presse.
“He can appeal though and if his appeal is granted then it can be reduced to two years. If he can prove that it was totally unintentional, he didn’t take the drug to enhance his performance, then he can be totally excused.”
Under international rules, Paul, who plays for the Indian league club DSK Shivajians, has the right to request a second test to challenge the findings.
“Nothing to say, I am speechless. I never cheated and will never do it, football is my life,” he told Agence France-Presse.
“I had a bit of cough and cold and took some medicines for it. I have already spoken to my doctor and will chalk out my defense.”
Paul, from the eastern state of West Bengal, last played for India in 2015, when he moved aside for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
In 2004, Paul was provisionally suspended by the AIFF after a collision with Dempo’s Brazilian striker Cristiano Junior, who died shortly after scoring.
He helped India win the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup and reach for the Asian Cup in 2011, where they ended a 27-year absence from the region’s top competition.