With the Commonwealth Games getting underway in about two weeks time, most of the members of the athletics contingent has already reached Australia and begun their preparations. Over the course of the last one week, as many as 24 athletes left the country in two batches. The rest of the athletes, who are still in the country, are training in Ooty and Patiala ahead of the mega event.
However, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has 'no idea' regarding the whereabouts of discus thrower Seema Punia. Confirming the development to Sportskeeda, K. Ranga Rao, Vice President of the AFI, said, "Seema has not travelled to Australia yet. She is training somewhere else on her own, we're not sure though where. But she will obviously join the contingent soon."
When Sportskeeda tried to contact AFI secretary-general C.K. Valson regarding the same, he was unavailable for a comment.
It has been learnt by Sportskeeda that the 34-year-old medal prospect is currently training in Russia, a country which has been banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for running a state-sponsored doping programme.
Seema had qualified for this year's Commonwealth Games after throwing 61.05m (the qualifying mark was 59m) at the recently held Federation Cup, a performance that earned her the gold medal. However, despite finishing on the podium, she was not tested as the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) officials were absent on that day. She was tested three days after winning the medal, on 8th March, the results of which are yet to come in.
It was in 2000 that the discus thrower had first shot into the limelight when she bagged the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Santiago. However, she was later stripped off her medal after failing the dope test for a stimulant. Much later on, she allegedly failed the dope test yet again ahead of the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Also, interestingly, this is not the first time that the athlete has trained alone. Before the 2016 Rio Olympics, Seema had decided to give the national camp a miss and had trained in Maykop, Russia. However, she could only manage a 20th place finish with a throw of 57.58m.