Appeared before AFI panel for dope offence in 2008: Maheswary
New Delhi: Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, who was today denied Arjuna Award by the Sports Ministry for flunking a dope test in 2008, admitted that he had appeared before an enquiry panel of the Athletics Federation of India at that time for returning positive for a banned drug.
"I had taken medicine for cold and cough prescribed by my local doctor in Kerala and that had led to the result (positive for ephedrine) in my urine sample. I was told by the AFI to appear before its enquiry committee in 2008 and furnish all the documents and certificates how the banned drug had entered into my system," Maheswary told PTI from Chennai.
"I appeared before the AFI enquiry panel and submitted the prescription and certificate of my local doctor that I was suffering from cold and cough and I had taken medicine for that," said Meheswary, who in 2008 represented Kerala and later shifted base in Tamil Nadu.
The 27-year-old said he had furnished information while giving his urine sample that he was suffering from cold and cough and so he was taking medicines.
The Sports Ministry in a release said that Maheswary had not reported using ephedrine for medicinal purposes during the collection of the sample.
The Sports Ministry also said that Maheswary was communicated by the Director of AFI on January 10, 2009 that he had been handed three months suspension for a dope offence.
Maheswary, however, maintained that he was not informed by any authority, including the AFI, that he was banned for three months for dope offence.
"I was not informed by anybody, including the AFI, about a three-month ban. I appeared before the AFI panel and I was told I had committed some wrong. I put my case that the drug had entered into my body due to the use of medicines I took for my cough and cold. That was it. Nobody told me about the suspension later on," he said.
The Sports Ministry has made the observation that it was possible the report of the National Dope Testing Laboratory might not be an acceptable `Adverse Analytical Finding` and that the chain of custody of the sample might not have been sufficiently foolproof.
The Ministry, however, has noted that Maheshwari never protested against the findings of the enquiry committee or the punishment awarded by the competent authority and his acceptance of the punishment, despite the flaws in collection and analysis of the sample, has made the punishment final.
Asked why he did not try to make a case in his favour out of all these apparent lacunae in the sample testing process and why he did not ask for a `B` sample test, Maheswary said he was not properly informed by the authorities.
"I did not know anything about possible problems in sample testing process at that time. I was not informed by anybody. Now I have to ask the AFI about this and why I was not properly informed," he said.
The national record holder, however, said that he would take the disappointment of not getting the Arjuna Award in his stride and continue to bring laurels for the country.
"I am certainly disppointed. I have gone through sadness and pain for the last 20 days. Anyways, now I am not getting the Arjuna Award and I will take this into my stride.
"It may take some time to get over this but I will get back to athletics and start training. I want to do well in the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year. I have to focus on them and bring laurels for the country," he said.