|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Antil cleared of doping charge
December 08, 2006 20:03 IST
Last Updated: December 08, 2006 21:36 IST
The doping scandal involving Seema Antil got murkier on Friday with the Athletics Federation of India giving her a clean chit in baffling circumstances and the discus thrower opting out of the Doha Asian Games citing mental stress.
In what appeared a clear eyewash, the AFI said it had formed a fast-track panel to hear the "alleged doping violation" by Seema and it found that the 23-year-old Haryana girl was "innocent".
In a press statement by secretary Lalit Bhanot, who ensured he was on the flight to Doha by the time the release got to the media, the AFI said the panel relied on "factual" circumstances before giving her the all-clear and paving the way for her participation in the Games.
Barely minutes after this release was issued, a letter written by the athlete in Hindi, was forwarded wherein Seema requested the AFI to allow her to skip the Games as she is in "mental stress" over the last 15 days and not in a position to represent her country.
The reason for the stress, Seema said, is her father's illness and "negative publicity" in the media.
"Looking at my present performance during training and the circumstances, I am not in a position to give a good performance in the Asian Games. Hence I request you to grant me permission to skip the Games," she wrote in the letter addressed to Bhanot.
It is still not clear whether Seema has boarded the flight to Doha or not.
AFI claimed it had constituted the hearing panel as per the rules of the international body (IAAF) but left several other doubts uncleared as to when it was formed, who were its members and how the surprising ruling came about.
"The hearing panel processed the hearing on fast basis and also called for all the records. Based on the subsequent test carried out in the dope lab, including the WADA accredited Lab in Bangkok, it deliberated over the matter at length," Bhanot said in the terse press statement.
"The hearing panel is of the view that Ms Seema Antil has not violated any rules and she is innocent. The charges against her due to the conduct should be dropped."
The panel relied on "factual circumstances" to come at the conclusion that the Melbourne Commonwealth Games silver-medallist be allowed to take part in the mega event.
"On the basis of the factual circumstances AFI considered it appropriate that she should be allowed to participate in her event in the ongoing Asian Games at Doha," it said.
Persistent queries earlier to the AFI had met with dismissive replies as well as the insistence that Seema was not caught for doping at all.
Seema had quit a pre-Games training camp in Muscat in mysterious circumstances and it later transpired that she had reportedly tested positive for a banned drug in tests conducted by Sports Authority of India.
Although there was no official confirmation, sources had said she had tested positive for a steroid and had been withdrawn from the Games.
While the other athletic events began on Thursday, the discus throw is scheduled to take place on December 11.
Seema, on her part, maintained that she had not taken any performance-enhancing drug.
"While I apologise for not being able to participate in the Games, I also wish to repeat what I said before the hearing panel that I have not taken any banned drug because I very well know the consequences of it," she said in her letter to AFI.
Her claims of innocence notwithstanding, the very fact that she does not wish to take part in the Games lends credence to the belief that she could be afraid of being caught by WADA officials at Doha.
A past drug offender, Seema tested positive for a banned substance after winning the gold in the 2000 World Junior Athletics Championship in Chile.
Doha Asian Games 2006: The Complete Coverage