Dope casts a cloud over Amit's Arjuna nomination

Dope casts a cloud over Amit's Arjuna nomination

The rise of 20-year-old wrestler Amit Kumar has been spectacular. However, the efforts of the talented grappler may not bring him the prestigious Arjuna Award this year.

Amit’s name figures in the list of athletes sanctioned by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). He was “reprimanded” for a doping offence in July 2012.

According to the NADA website, Amit Kumar tested positive for a diuretic, Furosemide, prior to the 2012 London Olympics. Diuretics are used by competitors in weight-specific sports to reduce weight. They may also be used as ‘masking agents’ to mask the use of another drug.

Amit, who won the gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and silver in the World Championships last year, was recommended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for the award.

But questions have already been asked at the scrutiny stage of the award nominees and it is learnt the Sports Ministry has discussed the matter.

Since the Haryana wrestler was only ‘reprimanded’ without any period of ineligibility by the Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel, there could be a doubt as to how his case would be treated. The ministry has left the matter for the Arjuna award selection panel to decide. It is doubtful though whether the panel would be able to make a concession.

However, one needs to consider if the sanction is serious enough to rule out the award for a meritorious sportsperson.

In 2002, shot putter Bahadur Singh had tested positive for a stimulant and was similarly reprimanded. He was denied the award on that ground though he had won the Busan Asian Games gold. Bahadur was ignored in subsequent years also.

The Ministry, following the episode in which triple jumper Renjith Maheswary had to be denied the award last year at the last moment, had amended the rules related to dope offenders being considered for the prestigious award since ambiguities had remained in the old rules.

Renjith’s name was withheld at the last minute after it was revealed that he had tested positive for a performance enhancing drug in 2008.

To avoid such mishaps, the Ministry last year drafted a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which states: “Sportspersons, who have been penalised or against whom enquiry is pending/ongoing for use of drugs/substances banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) based on a sample collected by the National Anti- Doping Agency (NADA) or any other agency authorized by WADA and tested by National Dope Testing Laboratory or any other WADA accredited laboratory, will not be eligible for the Arjuna Award.”

A top official in Sports Ministry, meanwhile, said,“The Ministry is aware about it (Amit’s case) and is looking into it. It will be brought to the notice of the selection committee.”

Two other international athletes, one a wrestler and the other a boxer, have also been ‘flagged’ in the list of nominees as dope offenders and they are also unlikely to be considered for the award.

The 11-member awards committee for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, to be headed by former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to finalise its recommendations before forwarding the list to the Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for final approval.

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