AFI plan for swift return of dope-tainted Ashwini nixed

Pune: Athletics Federation of India`s plan to include dope-tainted Ashwini Akkunji in the women`s 4x400m relay team in the ongoing Asian Championships here was today nixed by the competition technical delegate on the ground that it would violate IAAF rules.

Plans were afoot to draft Akkunji, whose two-year ban for a doping offence committed in 2011 ended on Wednesday, into the women`s 4x400m relay team to raise hopes of a gold medal in the event.

An AFI top official had, however, denied yesterday that there was any plan to include Akkunji in the women`s 4x400m relay team.

Under a High Court order, Akkunji and some other dope-tainted athletes caught together two years back had been training at NIS Patiala and so would have been ready in any eventuality.

But, one of the two-member competition technical delegate, Yukio Seki from Japan told PTI that no athlete would be allowed to be included now as doing that would violate the IAAF and AAA competition rules as the final entries have been frozen on June 20.

"It is not possible to include any additional member from India or for that matter any other country after the deadline of final entries (on June 20). Doing that would be a violation of IAAF as well as AAA competition rules," he said.

"The meeting of technical delegates of all the countries held before the Asian Championships also decided that no additional member from any country will be allowed after June 20 and once the competition starts," he said.

"For relay events, under new IAAF Rules, any four from the squad whether he or she is a track athlete or a long jumper or pole vaulter can run. But all the four will have to be from among the final entries given on the deadline of June 20 and not from outside," he added.

Seki, however, said the competition technical delegate has not got any written request from the India to include Akkunji in the team.

"We have not got any written request from India. Even if we get, it cannot be accepted now," he said.

The other member of the Competition Technical Delegate is Wong Tien Chong from Singapore.

It is also learnt that India had tried on the first day of the competition to field a member of the men`s 4x400m relay team in the 100m dash heats before the competition technical delegate rejected it.

"Once the final entries are frozen and the competition starts there cannot be any change. That was decided in the meeting of technical delegates of all the countries before the Championships," Seki said.

There was a possibility for Akkunji taking part in the Championships if India had made a request to the competition technical delegate that an athlete would be named later.

Under the new competition rules relating to relay, a country may not name the members of the relay team and any four from the 108-strong squad can run during the competition.

Akkunji`s name could have been included before the start of the event considering that her ban period ended on the first day of the Championships.

The 4x400m relay event begins with the heats tomorrow and ends on the last day of the Championships on Sunday.

"If India had wanted to include an athlete, they could have made a written request, saying that they want a slot to be kept vacant for a possible entry before the competition and we could have considered it," Seki said.

Asked if the decision of the two-member competition technical delegate will be the final, Seki said, "Yes, this is the final and it is under the IAAF and AAA Rules. We have got such request from other countries and we have rejected them.

"If you do not agree to one country then you cannot agree for other countries also. Rules will have to be applied equally to all countries," he said.

Asked if Asian Athletics Association Technical Committee, which is headed by Secretary-Treasurer Maurice Nicholas, can overturn the competition technical delegate`s decision on India`s request, Seki said, "I don`t think so. The AAA Technical Committee has also accepted this position that no additional entry should be allowed once the competition starts."

AFI Secretary C K Valson is one of the members of the AAA Technical Committee.