New Delhi: The Athletics Federation of India on Monday night told the Sports Ministry that triple jumper Renjith Maheswary was never punished by it for a dope offence, a development which may get him the Arjuna Award.
Hours before he was to be presented the prestigious Arjuna Award on August 31, Maheswary was told under dramatic circumstances that he will have to wait for the coveted honour till the completion of an inquiry on whether he had failed a dope test in 2008.
He was, however, assured that he would get the prestigious award if he comes clean after an inquiry by Sports Secretary P K Deb. National record holder Maheswary has all along maintained that he has done nothing wrong and he deserved the Award.
Late tonight, the AFI sent the report sought by Sports Ministry on whether Maheswary had been punished for any dope offence.
AFI President Adille Sumariwala said that the report has been sent to the Sports Ministry after a search of the files of the last five years.
"We have sent the report to the Sports Ministry," he said without elaborating.
A source in the AFI said that the federation had written to the Ministry that Maheswary had never been suspended for any dope offence.
"The report says Maheswary has never been suspended for any dope offence. It says the AFI has no knowledge of punishment being handed to Maheswary for any dope violation. It has no such record," the source said.
Earlier in the day, Sports Secretary had said that Ministry was waiting for the report from the federation.
"We are waiting for a report from the AFI. There is no record with SAI about Maheswary having failed a dope test and so we have asked the AFI to tell us regarding this issue," he said.
Reports have quoted Deb as saying that Meheswary could have taken the banned drug (Ephedrine stimulant) "accidentally" under prescription by a doctor.
But Deb said that Maheswary`s fate will depend on whether he was punished by the AFI for a dope offence.
"It will all depend on whether the AFI had punished Maheswary for a doping offence," Deb said.
Maheswary returning positive for a banned drug in 2008 was though not a secret as there were media reports at that time about this after he won gold in the 48th National Open Athletics Championships in Kochi in September 2008.
An AFI source had also said that Maheswary indeed flunked a dope test during the National Open Athletics Championships in Kochi in September 2008 which was kept under wraps by the Federation.
"Yes, Renjith failed a dope test in 2008 in 48th National Open Athletics Championships in the test conducted by the AFI. At that time, the NDTL was not WADA-accredited and we took the sample and sent it to the SAI laboratory. He failed the test for stimulant ephedrine," an AFI official had said.
According to the source, Maheswary was a handed a three month punishment by the AFI Appeals Panel.
If Maheswary is found to have failed the dope test, then he will not be eligible for the award as the eligibility rule (4.2) as amended on March 15, 2010, clearly states that "sportspersons found positive for use of drugs banned by the International Olympic Committee in any laboratory accredited by the IOC will not be eligible for Arjuna Award".
There was a precedent also as in 2002, shot-putter Bahadur Singh Sagoo of Punjab Police was not given the Arjuna Award despite winning the gold medal at the 2002 Busan Asian Games in the wake of doping allegations.