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The curious case of Renjith Maheshwary

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Modified 18 Sep 2013, 18:22 IST
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Renjith Maheshwary (Getty Images)

The mystery over Indian athlete Renjith Maheswary’s ‘failed’ dope test got further shrouded after contradictory reports emerged regarding the triple-jumper’s ‘positive’ sample, according to the Indian Express. Maheshwary’s Arjuna award was put on hold because of this doping test, but until now the authorities have not been able to come to a conclusion as to whether Maheshwary should be allowed to receive the prestigious award.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had apparently written a letter back in 2008 to the sports ministry, mentioning Maheswary’s 3-month long suspension at the time for a doping violation. But, it looks like the authorities pulled a faux pas as they had reportedly not followed international protocols at the time of dishing out the punishment. The International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have as a result said that they do not have any records that show any wrongdoing on the part of Maheshwary.

The sports ministry had held back the Arjuna Award, for which Maheswary had been recommended, before the ceremony after the reports pertaining to his 2008 doping offence came out. The Sports Ministry then launched an independent investigation into it.

The National Dope Test Laboratory’s (NDTL) analysis showed the athlete to be having an unusually high amount of ephedrine, in his system. 10 to 15 micrograms of ephedrine is the normal amount found in the system in case of prescriptive administration. Maheswary’s sample was said to contain approximately 90 micrograms of the banned substance, according to sources.

“It’s an unusually high amount and it indicates that he had used the drug to enhance his performance,” the source said.

In some more surprising news, a ‘B’ sample was never requested, as is the norm.

“They informed RSPB that Maheswary was suspended for a period of three months starting October 3 after his A sample tested positive. Surprisingly, there was no request to test the ‘B’ sample by Maheswary, which is a normal route an athlete takes,” the source said.

Maheshwary was barred from taking part in all forms of competition due to this. But, the AFI apparently failed to inform its parent body of the failed test, which was against the anti-doping regulations.

WADA is reported to have said that since at that time the National Anti-Doping Agency did not exist and no accreditation existed for the NDTL the time sample was collected and tested, its sanctity cannot be guaranteed.

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That’s why the sample apparently cannot be used to take any official action. According to the source, Maheshwary’s sample was collected by the AFI on September 12, 2008, and was sent to NDTL for testing on September 15. The WADA accreditation for NDTL came through only on September 21.

“That means the AFI did not follow anti-doping laws set by the WADA by suspending Maheswary for three months and they further violated it by not informing IAAF. As a result, Maheswary’s suspension does not hold any international reckoning and he continues to have a clean reputation,” the source said.

The AFI’s secretary in 2008, Lalit Bhanot, said he could not recall how the events panned out. “At that time, I was busy with the preparations for the Commonwealth Games as I was a part of the organising committee. Hence, it is difficult for me to say what exactly happened back then,” Bhanot said.

Sports ministry officials were unavailable for comment, but a decision on the matter is expected on Wednesday or Thursday, after the case is studied in detail by sports minister Jitender Singh.

Published 18 Sep 2013, 18:22 IST
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