A two-year ban in 2018 for failing a dope test and the death of her father due to COVID-19 last year taught women’s 10,000m national champion Sanjivani Jadhav profound life lessons, even as she seeks to leave behind the setbacks and look ahead in her running career.

The 25-year-old Jadhav served a two-year ban handed by the Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics in 2019 after testing positive for masking agent Probenecid. All her results after June 29, 2018 were annulled and she lost the 10,000m bronze she won at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.

Jadhav’s 5000m bronze, won in the 2017 Asian Championships, remained intact.

“I learnt a lot in the two years of ban. It was not my fault, not an intentional use (of the banned drug). I learnt from the incident that you cannot take life for granted, you have to be cautious in doing anything in life and take things seriously,” she told PTI here after winning the 10,000m gold with a time of 33:16.43s.

“After I came out of the ban (in June 2020), I am very cautious about what I ingest for any illness. Every time I take any drug whether it is a tablet for cold, fever, or painkiller, I would consult the doctor. I would also urge every athlete to do the same.”

Jadhav had then argued that she had not used any additional supplements or substances than those disclosed on her doping control forms and that the contamination could have been caused by ayurvedic medicines she was using at the time of sample collection.

“The AFI, my family and close ones supported me all through and that was also another lesson in life, that one needs a support system at times of distress whether in sport or in life,” said Jadhav who now works as a sports officer of the Maharashtra government at her home town of Nashik.

“My father’s death made me even more mentally stronger. I came out of the shock and told myself I have to do even better and win medals to support my family. I got a job because of athletics and so I have to keep on doing well.

“My brother is a teacher and he also chipped in to run the family, it is not easy.”

A seasoned campaigner, Jadhav also expressed regret that she had not joined the national camp earlier. She competed in the youth and junior levels from 2013 to 2015 before participating in the senior category and winning medals from 2016 onwards. She had not been to a national camp till joining it in Bengaluru last month.

“I have been selected for national camp since 2011 but I did not join fearing that the workload there will be more and there could be an injury. But now I feel I could have made more progress had I joined camp earlier.

“I feel injuries are also better attended to at the national camps and you get sports scientists there also. I am still carrying a gluteus injury which affects my race. It would have been treated earlier had I joined the camp.”

About the race on Friday, Jadhav said, “It was hot and humid and not conducive for good timing. I had not trained in this kind of condition in Bengaluru.

“I could have done much better but I have just started proper training after joining camp last month. There was nobody to push me also, I was leading from the start till the end.”

Her effort on Friday was more than three seconds away from her personal best of 33:13.07s she had clocked while winning the Federation Cup in April. It was well outside the Athletics Federation of India’s Commonwealth Games standard of 31 minutes.

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