In a bizarre instance, junior athletes Ranjitha Mahanta and M Thavaraj who tested positive for a banned substance during National Youth Athletics (U-18) meet in April last year in Coimbatore, have gone missing.
Despite efforts from the National Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Federation of India, the two could not be summoned for a mandatory hearing as the addresses they had provided during sampling turned out to be old ones.
According to their coaches, by the time the notices were served the two had vacated the sports hostels in which they were residing. Interestingly, even the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is feigning ignorance of their whereabouts.
Ranjitha, who hails from Bhubaneswar, and the Chennai-based Thavaraj were provisionally suspended for two years by the NADA in May.
“The athletes are not available at the addresses, and the notices were returned. If they don't appear before the hearing panel on Feb 9, a public notice will be issued in Orissa and TN," Rahul Bhatnagar, director general, NADA, said. "Even after the public notice, if the players fail to appear before the panel, the case will be treated as ex-parte," he added. Since the doping episode came to light, sprinters Ranjitha and Thavaraj, who had set national records in 100m and 110m hurdles respectively at Coimbatore, appear to have become nobody's child with their mentors washing their hands off.
Coach Raj Kumari Patra said over the phone from Bhubaneswar, “I have no idea about Ranjitha's failed dope test.” Thavaraj's coach, M Nagraj, was equally vague. “He left the hostel long back and I don't have his village address.” NADA issued a fourth notice in January and has asked the AFI to direct the state associations to cooperate.