Uttarakhand sprinter Furkan Ahmed’s time of 12.44 seconds, clocked during the 100m heats in the Kolkata Open National Championships last year, wouldn’t even get him a place in the top-eight in the women’s category. In fact, West Bengal’s Ruma Sarkar timed 12.38 seconds to finish eighth and last in women’s 100m.
Irrespective of the timing, the 22-year-old Ahmed would certainly have got the participation certificate, which might add to his profile and help him get a job under the sports quota.
But, in order to check this kind of manipulation and streamline the system, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is planning to make certain changes in the Federation Cup meet in April. The season-opening competition will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
According to CK Valson, AFI secretary-general, the federation has set minimum-qualifying standards for all events. Valson says that unless the participants achieve a minimum standard in their respective events, they won’t get entry. “The athletes have to furnish proofs of their performance,” he told HT.
He added that competitors will have to make their own arrangements for travel as well as accommodation. This decision was taken during the executive board meeting of the AFI in October last year. In the past, the federation had to provide accommodation as well as meals to all the competitors. Valson said, “This is being done on an experimental basis. We are looking forward to the athletes’ support.”
But in the season’s opening meet, which is also a Rio qualifying competition, the AFI move is aimed at reducing the financial burden on the host units, in this case the Delhi State Athletics Association.
Incidents like Furkan Ahmed hardly come to light. State units often ignore guidelines, if any, and field players whose aim is to get participation certificates. With some state units often mired in one controversy or the other, Valson said, setting new guidelines to compete in the national meet would check manipulation by the state bodies.
Valson, however, denied that the federation was liberal in its approach to support athletes with below-par performance. “The federation has laid down certain criteria; if an athlete doesn’t achieve the minimum qualifying mark, participation certificate is not awarded.”