A fortnight has lapsed since the National Sports Awards were given away, but the sports ministry is yet to decide whether Renjith Maheshwary deserves the Arjuna Award. This is despite the fact that the ministry has enough evidence to prove that the triple jumper had indeed failed a dope test in 2008 during a national meet in Kochi.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI), an arm of the ministry, had initially expressed its inability to locate the document related to the 2008 event, but managed to trace the necessary details in its record books.
The-then head of SAI’s teams division, SS Roy, had informed the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) about the case, and had called for action in his letter. The document is now with the ministry.
On its part, the AFI also informed the international body (IAAF) about Maheshwary’s “ineligibility” for three months starting October 13, 2008.
The rules are clear — sportspersons who have failed dope tests are ineligible for the award.
But the ministry, it is learnt, is looking for ways to give Maheshwary a clean chit. The ministry’s letter addressed to the AFI, dated September 11, had asked the federation to search for the papers related to the triple jumper and reply by September 13.
The federation received the letter on September 13 but is yet to reply. This, according to a SAI official, points to the ministry’s secret attempts to support Maheshwary’s case.
Secretary, sports, PK Deb, who had said that a decision would be taken on Monday (September 16) told HT that the case was still pending. “No decision has been reached yet,” he said.
Apart from the details furnished by SAI, the ministry is also aware of the high levels of ephedrine Maheshwary had tested for. In 2008, as per IAAF rules, less than 10% was within the permissible limit, but Maheshwary’s was 79%, indicating that he had taken the stimulant to enhance performance and not for cough or cold as hinted by a top ministry official.
According to a SAI official, Maheshwary’s application had been rejected in 2010 and 2011 for the same reason. “This time he found favour with some top officials and that helped him cross the initial hurdles.”