Athletics Federation of Indias (AFI) role in clearing triple jumper Renjith Maheswarys name for the Arjuna award has come under the scanner. Maheswary was not presented the award on Saturday by the sports ministry after it emerged that he had reportedly failed a dope test in 2008 and was handed a provisional suspension by the AFI.
The ministry,now probing the incident,has demanded an explanation from the athletics body. The ministry is also investigating if the AFI was genuinely unaware of Maheswarys reported doping violation or whether it was a cover-up.
It is learnt that,when recommending his name,the AFI had certified to the sports ministry and the awards panel that Maheswary had not tested positive for banned substances in the past. Their claims were subsequently verified with the National Anti-Doping Agency,which too confirmed that triple-jumpers career has been blemish-free.
Along with the letter of recommendation,the AFI had certified that Maheswary was free of doping charges in the past. Its a mandatory undertaking that has to be given by all federations. We also got it cross-checked with NADA. Both assured us that Maheswary had not failed a dope test in the past, sports secretary PK Deb said,adding that the SAI too was scanning his past records.
But NADA came into being only after the said incident had occurred. So the onus is on the AFI to keep us informed.
Deb,who is investigating the issue himself,said the ministry is treating the case with a lot of sympathy for Maheswary but at the same time,it will not make an exception to the rule-book.
AFI president Adille Sumariwala said his federation wasnt aware of the doping violation. The AFI wasnt aware of doping violation by Maheswary in 2008 and that is the reason his name was forwarded to the ministry. We will check the past records on Monday and get back to the ministry subsequently, Sumariwala said.
Maheswary allegedly tested positive during the Nationals in 2008 and was provisionally suspended. The AFI panel handed him only a three-month suspension. According to the rules laid down by the sports ministry,no athlete with a past record of doping violation is eligible for the awards. The AFI is likely to submit its report to the sports ministry on Monday and a final decision is expected either on the same day or latest by Tuesday.