Taking note of banned athletes like Ashwini Akkunji and Sini Jose training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre at Sonepat, sports minister Ajay Maken on Wednesday admitted that this was a serious issue and they were probing the matter.
Despite the one-year suspensions handed to some of the athletes -- Ashwini Akkunji, Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Priyanka Panwar and Tiana Mary Thomas -- in December last year for doping, they have been found to be training at Sonepat's SAI Centre for some time now, which is in violation to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.
But Maken assured that the ministry would look into the matter.
"We are inquiring into it as to how these girls went in there. As far as the government is concerned, there was no involvement and no fund was given. How they (tainted athletes) are there (in SAI Sonepat) is a subject to inquiry," said Maken.
"This is a serious matter and we are looking into it," he added.
The WADA in its code makes the status of athletes during ineligibility period clear. It states: "No athlete or other person who has been declared ineligible may, during the period of ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a competition or activity (other than authorised anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes) authorised or organised by any signatory, signatory's member organisation, or a club or other member organisation of a signatory's member organisation, or in competitions authorised or organised by any professional league or any international or national-level event organisation."
Hence, it came as a surprise that it was through the assistance of SAI that these tainted athletes are being provided training and accommodation.