No Arjuna for Renjith, says Sports Ministry

No Arjuna for Renjith, says Sports Ministry

The Sports Ministry on Thursday decided against conferring triple jumper Renjith Maheswary with the prestigious Arjuna award following a “detailed investigation” which confirmed the athlete failed a dope test and was handed a three-month suspension for the breach of rules.

After days of dilly-dallying, the ministry finally reached the decision on Maheswary, who was stopped from receiving the award on the morning of the function on August 31 following media reports of him having tested positive for a banned substance ephedrine during the 2008 national meet.

The ministry stated in a release on Thursday that after  detailed investigations, it had determined that Maheshwary was found to have used a “scheduled” substance (ephedrine) during the 46th National Athletic Championships at Kochi in 2008. The sample was collected on September 8, 2008 and given to the National Dope Testing Laboratory on September 15, 2008. NDTL on October 3, 2008 analysed the A-sample and reported levels of ephedrine far above the expected levels, even when ephedrine is consumed for therapeutic purposes.
The ministry noted that Maheshwary had not reported using ephedrine for medicinal purposes during the collection of the sample.

“...The Ministry therefore, with considerable regret, announces that the Arjuna Award for 2013 will not be conferred on Shri Renjith Maheshwary.”

The Ministry stated that Maheswary did not request for an analysis of his B sample and was handed a three-month suspension.

The statement said that on January 10, 2009, the triple jumper was awarded a punishment of a ban for three months starting from October 13, 2008. He was also disqualified from the championships. This was communicated to him by the Director of the Athletic Federation of India vide his letter No. F.7-4/AFI/MC/2009 dated January 10, 2009, the ministry said. It said a copy of the letter was available with the ministry.

The ministry noted that Maheswary had never protested against the findings of the enquiry committee or the punishment awarded by the competent authority.

The ministry also asked the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to explain how Maheswary was recommended for the award.

“The Ministry has also noted with disquiet, the failure of the Athletics Federation of India to provide full details of the case. In the absence of records from the AFI, the details of the event had to be reconstructed from other sources.”

The ministry mainly relied on a letter issued by the AFI to the Railway Sports Promotion Board in January 2009, informing it of the suspension following Maheswary’s positive test at the Nationals.

The ministry also sought the opinion of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) which reportedly stated that since the laboratory was still under accreditation process on September 15, 2008, when the sample was received by it, it would not be considered valid under the WADA rules.

Yet, the ministry went by the argument that it could have been up to Maheswary to appeal the sanction if he chose to do so.

Meanwhile, Maheswary maintained that he was not informed by any authority, including the AFI, that he was banned for three months.

“I appeared before the AFI panel and I was told that I committed some wrong. Nobody told me about the suspension.”