Athletics Federation of India reacted cautiously to the Kerala High Court order directing inclusion of middle distance runner P U Chitra in the national squad for next month’s World Athletics Championships, saying it has not been heard so far by the HC in the case.
Justice P B Suresh Kumar of the Kerala High Court, in an interim order, today directed the central government to make all arrangements to see that Chitra participates in the world event to be held in London from August 4-13.
Athletics officials, meanwhile, said that it will be impossible for the AFI to include Chitra in the Indian contingent as the entry of athletes for the global flagship event has been closed.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said that the lawyers representing the federation have not presented their argument so far.
“The honourable Kerala High Court has passed an order. But we have not filed any reply so far, our lawyers are yet to present their arguments in the case. We got the petition (filed by Chitra) at 4pm last evening and some pages were not very clear,” Sumariwalla told PTI.
“Our lawyers expect to present argument in the case on Monday and they (the lawyers) will deal with the matter accordingly,” he added.
Meanwhile, an AFI official said that the IAAF (the world body of athletics) will not consider inclusion of any new athlete of any country as the entry deadline has passed.
“The entry of the participating athletes is closed and the IAAF will not agree to any new inclusion from any country,” he said.
Chitra, who had recently won a gold in women’s 1500m event in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, filed the writ petition after she was excluded from the Indian squad by the federation.
In her plea, she said her gold medal performance at the Asian Athletics Championships made her an automatic pick for the World Championships.
Chitra was one of the three Asian Championships gold winners to have been left out of the 24-member India team for the World Championships.
Sudha Singh (women’s 3000m steeplechase) and Ajoy Kumar Saroj (men’s 1500m) were the other two.
The Asian Championships winners get an automatic berth for the World Championships but the global governing body IAAF’s rules were clear that the national federation has within its powers not to send a continental event winner.
Sumariwalla, in a detailed letter to the government, had earlier said that the performances of these three athletes were not good enough for the top global event. He pointed out that their performances during the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar were even worse than the junior national record.
“The AFI has the final authority to send an athlete or not even if they qualify. The IAAF rules clearly say that,” he had said.
“Their performances were far below World Championships entry standards and are even worse than the junior national record. World Championships is not an exposure tour or a minor competition. The best of the world compete there and we cannot send athletes who are not upto certain standards,” he added.