Athlete Renjith Maheshwary stripped of Arjuna Award

Athlete Renjith Maheshwary has been stripped of his Arjuna Award after the Selection Committee came across allegations of doping pending against him. The rules for the Arjuna Awards debar any person who has been found to have used a prohibited or scheduled substance.

Earlier his name was included in the list of Arjuna Award Winners for 2013. He was about to receive award on August 31, but it was postponed in the last minutes as the  Sports Authority (SAI) wanted to confirm whether or not he’d failed a dope test five years back.

Reports state that Maheshwary was found to have used a “scheduled” substance (ephedrine) during the 46th National Athletic Championships at Kochi in 2008.

The sample was collected on 08 September 2008 and given to the National Dope Testing Laboratory on September 15, 2008. NDTL on 03 October 2008 analysed the A-sample of Shri Maheshwary and reported levels of ephedrine far above the expected levels, even when ephedrine is consumed for therapeutic purposes. Maheshwary had not report using ephedrine for medicinal purposes during the collection of the sample.

Later he was suspended by the AFI pending enquiry. The case was heard by the enquiry committee of the AFI and Shri Maheshwary was given an opportunity to present his case as well. Maheshwary did not request for an analysis of his B-sample.

On 10th January 2009, Maheshwary was awarded a punishment of a ban for 3 months starting from 13.10.2008. He was also disqualified from the said championships. This was communicated to him by the Director of the Athletic Federation of India vide his letter No. F.7-4/AFI/MC/2009 dated 10 January 2009. A copy of the said letter is available with Sports Ministry.

However there are doubts over the acceptability of the sample from Maheshwary. It is possible that the report of the National Dope Testing Laboratory may not be an acceptable ‘Adverse Analytical Finding’ and that the chain of custody of the sample may not have been sufficiently foolproof.

Maheshwary has never protested against the findings of the enquiry committee or the punishment awarded by the competent authority. His acceptance of the punishment, despite the flaws in collection and analysis of the sample, has made the punishment final.

The Sports Ministry has also asked the Athletics Federation of India to explain how they nominated Maheshwary for the Arjuna Award, when there were allegations of doping pending against him.

Renjith Maheshwary  is an Indian triple jumper. He finished fourth at the 2006 Asian Games and won the 2007 Asian Championships. He also competed at the 2007 World Championships, and the 2013 World Championships but did not reach the final. He represented India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as in 2012 London Olympics.

Renjith holds the Indian national record in triple jump of 17.07m, which he achieved in a bronze medal winning effort at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. He also  won the gold medal in Asian Grand Prix 2012.

Renjith is married to Indian pole vaulter and National record holder V. S. Surekha and they have a daughter, Jhiya Renjith.