Ban over, Akkunji makes appearance at Asian Athletics C`ship
Pune: With her ban period ending on Thursday, dope-tainted double Asian Games gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji made an appearance during the ongoing Asian Athletics Championships here.
Akkunji, one of the six top quartermilers who flunked dope test in 2011, served a two-year ban and the period ended today. Even the website of International Athletics Federation (IAAF) has removed her name from the list of sanctioned athlete.
The ban period of five other athletes -- Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose, Tiana Mary Thomas, Priyanka Panwar and Juana Murmu -- have also ended.
The lanky 25-year-old Karnataka athlete said she has no immediate plans to start taking part in competitions.
Asked if she was thinking of competing in Europe and try to qualify for the World Championships, Akkunji said, "I have no immediate plans to start competition. It`s already late for World Championhsips though I think there are a few competitions left for which entry can be made till July 8.
"But I am not going to start taking part in competitions so soon. Maybe I can take part in National Open Athletics Championships in Ranchi in September," said Akkunji, who had won gold in 400m hurdles and 4X400m hurdles in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
Akkunji and five other top Indian women quartermilers were caught for steroid doping in 2011 and handed one-year bans by the National Anti-Doping Agency.
However, on appeal from the International Athletics Federation (IAAF), the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland increased the ban to two years.
There were talks of Akkunji being drafted into women's 4x400m relay team but a top AFI official denied the development.
"There's no such thing, so I cannot respond to this," he said.
AFI secretary C K Valson had earlier said that India cannot make any replacement now as the entries had been freezed on June 20.
Valson's comments came when asked whether India can field a replacement for dope flunked shot putter Udaya Laxmi.