New Delhi: Four years after he was unceremoniously sacked in the wake of the 2011 doping scandal, Ukrainian Yuri Ogorodnik has returned to the country, ending days of speculation over his appointment as athletics coach to prepare the women quartermilers for Rio Olympics.
The 77-year-old Ogorodnik arrived here on Monday, six months after his appointment as athletics coach was accepted by the Sports Ministry on the recommendation of the Athletics Federation of India.
The process of his final clearance was a tedious one as the ministry treaded cautiously, apparently due to the doping scandal that broke out in 2011 in which eight quartermilers under his charge, including 2010 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist runners, were caught for doping.
"Yuri landed in Delhi yesterday and most likely he will be based at NIS Patiala," AFI Secretary C K Valson told PTI.
"It's a good thing for Indian athletics that he has arrived, though it took a long time," he added.
With the arrival of Ogorodnik, most of the top quartermilers will have to be put for training at the National Institute of Sports at Patiala.
The experienced coach will, however, not have much to do with the preparation of the women's 4x400m relay team for next month's IAAF World Championships in Beijing, for which India may qualify, as there's very little time now for the showpiece event.
"He cannot do much for the World Championships. His main job will be to prepare the quartermilers for 2016 Rio Olympics," Valson said.
Valson said that "as of now", the Indian women's 4x400m relay team has a chance to qualify for the August 22-30 World Championships. Only 16 teams will qualify for the World Championships relay event.
"The top eight teams in IAAF World Relays in Bahamas last year will get automatic qualification. The remaining eight teams will be chosen according to world rankings after the qualification period ends on August 10. As of today, our team's effort of 3:28.68secs at the 2014 Asian Games (Oct 2, 2014) puts us at number 12 spot overall. So, we can qualify for the event," said Valson.
Fourteen other Indian athletes, including the likes of Vikas Gowda, Inderjeet Singh and Tintu Luka, have qualified for the World Championships.