Triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary has been left devastated after being left out in the cold as far as the Arjuna award is concerned.
The athlete, talking to the Sunday Standard, was visibly distraught at the sequence of events and the way in which he was denied the opportunity to receive the prestigious award.
“Even after 2008 I have won several international laurels and they were included in India’s medal count. If I was not eligible then why didn’t the AFI express their dissent on this? “, asked Renjith Maheswary, after he was informed that he was not going to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award.
This was after the sports ministry had instituted a detailed investigation which found unusually high traces of the drug ephedrine, a banned substance, in 2008, during the National Open Athletic Championships in Kochi.
Renjith, while speaking to the Sunday Standard, remained adamant that he had never been banned for doping earlier and was hence eligible to receive the award. He put forward the case of former badminton player, Aparna Popat, who received the Arjuna Award despite being given a 6-month ban by the badminton world body for using stimulants. He wants a fair treatment.
“Aparna was handed over a six months ban by the badminton world body and yet she was conferred with the Arjuna in 2005. If the same yard stick is used in my case then I am eligible, though I haven’t been banned for doping,” the national record holder added.
“I have never been caught for doping and suspended as some claim. In 2008 after the Kochi event I had some problem with my urine sample and when the AFI appointed hearing body called me for explaining my part I told them that I had used some tablets and cough syrups under a doctor’s prescription. They asked me for the proof and I handed over them the bill and the doctor’s prescription. They were contended with my explanation and warned me to consult with the doctors recognized by the AFI in future. They didn’t send any particular report regarding this to the SAI. Only now I have been told that they had sent a report to the Railway Recruitment Board,” a visibly distressed Renjith Maheswary said.
Renjith also wanted to clear the air about the supposed “3-month suspension” that was handed out to him. He maintained that those 3 months were not a part of any suspension, but merely some time that was given to him in order to explain his stance on the case.
“My name was forwarded to the award screening committee via the federation. If there was any wrong doing from my part then why did the AFI forward my application. And why did they send me for competitions and why the minimum ban of six months, which is the minimum punishment period recommended by the IAAF for the slightest of the dope offense, wasn’t invoked on me,” asked Renjith.
Renjith’s story line has many flaws and loose ends, but it still does showcase some amount of lethargy and high-handedness on the part of the AFI.
Renjith’s incursions on the drugs front has been seemingly accepted by the sports ministry, though the event itself is yet to be proven. The case seems to be caught up in a series of twists and turns with each side defending their stance in the event.