New goal-setting for goal-keeper
Down and beat, it's a year Adrian D'Souza, can't wish away.
The former India hockey custodian erred when he tested positive for marijuana during the World Series Hockey (WSH), and paid a penalty with a three-month ban after he appealed to National Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel (NADDP) getting a 2-year suspension reduced, pleading it was done unknowingly and the substance wasn't a performance enhancing drug. After three months of forced introspection and an obligated detachment from the game as well as lying low and holding together his splintered confidence, D'Souza has served out his ban and is ready to return to what he loves doing most - playing hockey.
But the tumult will take time before it settles completely. "In the beginning, it was just difficult personally as a sportsman and as a human being. But having near and dear ones around helped me in getting back my confidence mentally," says the 28-year-old. D'Souza had been spending time with his family after a feverish criss-crossing inaugural WSH season last year, when he first heard of the positive test. "It was all over, though I got to know from the press, as usual," he says wryly.
The positive unnerved him even more, given that it was duing his down-time that hell broke loose. "The gap between the dope test (at Jallandhar) and the result was long, so it was a shock because the tournament was over by then," he says.
It was a month before he was scheduled to be married. "Wife's been a huge support in the tough times," he says.
The appeal hearing wasn't a smooth affair, and the time when he prepared to appeal for a reduced ban was the toughest. The defense against the cannabinoids (a specified substance) charge is known to have cited examples like Michael Phelps (who never tested positive, but was snapped smoking) and a few other UK athletes, and the hearing took D'Souza to the trenches emotionally as they leaned on other similar cares of inadvertent indiscretions. He's determined to look back at the episode as a 'phase of life' - albeit a painful one. He also mouths caution. "It's important for every athlete to know what is going inside the system. I'll be very careful, and so should everyone," he says, stressing that it was a mistake unknowingly committed.
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