Satnam Singh Bhamara, who created history when he became the first Indian-born player to be drafted into the NBA in 2015 with Dallas Mavericks, has been provisionally suspended by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) for failing a dope test last month. Satnam’s urine sample was collected during the preparatory camp in Bangalore for the South Asian Games, which began in Kathmandu on December 1. After the test returned positive, the 23-year-old was provisionally suspended on November 19.
The banned substance that has been detected in his sample could not be confirmed. The 7-foot-2-inch center from Balloke, Punjab, has represented India in major tournaments like Asian Championships, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and 2019 World Cup Qualifiers. He was originally a part of the squad but has not traveled for the regional event. India’s South Asian Games campaign got underway on Friday with a 138-63 thumping of Bhutan without him.
A team official said they were not aware of the failed dope test. “He told us there was some family problem and hence had to stay back,” the official told The India Express from Kathmandu after the match. Basketball Federation of India secretary Chander Mukhi Sharma, too, said he was unaware of the development as he is out of town.“These decisions aren’t sent to us via email. NADA sends a physical copy in a sealed cover. Since I am not in the office, I am not aware if any such communication has been sent and hence can’t comment on the issue,” Sharma said.
“Satnam told us at the last minute that there was some family problem and would not be able to take part in the South Asian Games. We are not aware of a positive dope test.”
Bhamara, in 2015, created history when he was picked in the NBA draft by Dallas Mavericks. He went on to play the next two years in the Development League with Texas Legends, an affiliate of Dallas Mavericks. After returning to India for a year to focus on the national team, Bhamara once again created history in September 2018 by becoming the first India-born cager to play in the National Basketball League of Canada after signing a deal with St John’s Edge.
Earlier this year, a streaming service announced a digital movie on Bhamara’s life; second such thing after Netflix released a documentary based his journey to the 2015 NBA Draft. While Bhamara could not be reached for comment, his manager said: “I shall try and get you a statement tomorrow.”
Bhamara joins a growing list of dope cases this year. Earlier this week, a NADA list accessed by this paper revealed that 156 Indian athletes had tested positive for consuming performance-enhancing drugs up to November 30. The number so far this year is more than double compared to 2018 when 70 athletes were caught for doping.