The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has sought two-year bans for the four quarter-milers, including Asian Games double gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji, who tested positive for banned substances last year following which they were slapped with one-year suspensions.The athletes had challenged the bans imposed on them by the anti-doping disciplinary panel and the appeals panel had reserved its verdict on their pleas.However, as expected, the WADA has come out to challenge the anti-doping disciplinary panel’s ruling just before the appeals panel is to pronounce its verdict.In its appeal, WADA has quoted several rulings by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in cases similar to those of Ashwini, Priyanka Panwar, Sini Jose and Tiana Mary Thomas in which the punishments awarded were more than one year. The world body made it clear that there was no need for leniency towards the athletes and they deserve harsher penalty. While Ashwini, Sini and Priyanka tested positive for methandienone, Tiana’s sample showed traces of two banned substances – methandienone and stanozolol.Chairman of the appeals panel CK Mahajan will now take up the appeal on Wednesday and the case may be dragged for another hearing before the three-member committee comes out with its verdict. The recent development comes as another setback for the athletes who are virtually out of contention for the Olympic qualifiers. There was a slender chance for them to make themselves available for the Olympics if the panel had upheld their appeal and decreed that the ban starts from the date of sample collection.advertisementHowever, with WADA’s intervention, they are in for more trouble with the world body putting in more evidence in support of a harsher penalty.The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) lawyers and defence counsel have been notified about the development.Meanwhile, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is also reviewing the cases of two athletes – Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu – who were also handed oneyear suspensions and is likely to challenge the ruling in their cases as well.In another development on Wednesday, two hammer throwers tested positive out of the 30 samples collected by NADA during the 57th National School Games held in Ludhiana from January 20 to 23.”In accordance with its programme for testing of athletes at School Games, NADA had collected 30 samples at this competition and the results showed two samples to give positive results for dope,” read a statement from NADA director general Rahul Bhatnagar.”The results of these 30 samples have been received from the National Dope Testing Laboratory. Out of 30 samples, two samples have given positive results for dope. They relate to hammer throwers,” it added.The substances found in samples were stanozolol and methandienone.