It is official, Renjith Maheshwary will not get the Arjuna Award. A statement issued by the sports ministry on Thursday said this was because he had failed a dope test during a domestic meet in 2008.
HT was the first to report that Maheshwary, the national record holder in triple jump and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, had tested positive in 2008 and shouldn’t be in the list of awardees during the National Sports Award function on August 31.
The rules are clear, dope cheats shouldn’t be conferred with the prestigious award.
Over the years, National Sports Award functions have been marred by controversies, but this year will go into the record books, as this was the first time a name recommended by the sports ministry’s panel for the award and even cleared by the minister, was denied on the day of the function.
Maheshwary pleaded that he had never tested positive, and claimed it was a conspiracy to destroy his reputation as an outstanding athlete of the country. However, after the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), which had recommended his name for the award, couldn’t furnish details to prove the athlete’s claims, Maheshwary wasn’t allowed to attend the ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The ministry was prompt to act and the minister, Jitendra Singh, ordered an inquiry. After over two weeks of investigation, it came to light that Maheshwary had indeed failed a dope test for ephedrine. Then, the federation had let him off with a light three-month suspension.
Despite the fact that the ministry has tried to make the selection process more transparent over the years, Maheshwary’s case highlights the loopholes in the system, even hinting that with the right connections getting the award isn’t difficult.