A nine-year old doping issue suddenly surfacing in public has left Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore peeved and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) in a spot.
The double-trap marksman is at his wit's end trying to figure out why his failing a dope test in 2004 - something for which he wasn't punished - is suddenly in the public domain through a leaked email.
Rathore though has spoken out against the NRAI on numerous occasions and has even taken them to court.
Following Rathore's petition, the Delhi High Court recently declared the NRAI governing body elections null and void thus putting a question mark on the fate of the elected body headed by Raninder Singh.
The NRAI has now filed an appeal before a double bench of the high court and the next hearing is scheduled for May 30.
The dope taint dates to July 2004 - a couple of months before the Athens Olympics -when Rathore competed at the Asian Clay Shooting Championship in Bangkok.Forbidden medicine
In a "confidential" letter to the NRAI then, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) had "regretted to inform" that one of the members of the India team (Rathore) "was detected to have used forbidden medicine".
A "B" sample test detected a "small concentration" of Prednisolone after which the ISSF president and secretary-general decided, "not to conduct any further investigation…
"According to the expertise of our medical committee and doping experts, the use of sun-protection cream or other cosmetic products etc, could have cause this positive effect," the ISSF had ruled.
Rathore won the team and individual gold at the event. He then went on to become India's first individual Olympic medallist in shooting, winning silver in the double trap at the Athens Games.
Sounding peeved Rathore told HT on Wednesday that, "the events of today are a clear attempt to defame me… to divert attention from (the) honourable high court's decision of nullifying NRAI elections. To rake up a non-issue from nine years earlier is vendetta and a last-ditch attempt to protect the stranglehold over the NRAI.
Amazed at NRAI
"In 2004, the highest officials of the ISSF were absolutely convinced about my credibility and had cleared me. I am amazed at the resistance of a few NRAI officials to allow free and fair elections. These things won't stop like-minded athletes from trying to clean up Indian sports."
"There were 8 or 9 more athletes from other countries whose samples had minute quantities of this substance and all of them were cleared. The fact that the issue has been raked up now when all the litigations are on is a clear indication to malign my image."
When contacted, NRAI president Singh denied Rathore's charge and said even he was surprised that such a minor issue was raked up after all these years.
"We (NRAI) have always protected our athletes. I don't understand why this is being raked up now and why the federation is assumed to be behind this," he said.