KOCHI: All eyes will be on the technical committee of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the next three weeks as 14 new national records await ratification. These include teenage javelin sensation Neeraj Chopra’s 86.48m that helped the country win its maiden World Junior Championship gold and Lalita Babar’s 9:19.76 in 3000m steeplechase during the Rio Olympics. Lalita had finished 10th in Rio.
Sources in the AFI said there were apprehensions regarding the marks of sprinter Dutee Chand (11.24s in 100m), the 4x100m women’s relay team (43.42s) and long jumper Ankit Sharma (8.19m) as they were set in Almaty. Though the athletes had undergone dope tests, the lab had been stripped of its accreditation by WADA hours 48 hours before the competitions, undermining their chances of making it to the record books.
The 11.33s that Dutee clocked in Delhi last April during the Federation Cup will be considered. However, the final ruling on Dutee would be keenly watched as AFI had, in 2014, refused to ratify Merlin Joseph’s 11.35s mark despite her effort meeting all the mandatory parameters. Technical committee head Tony Daniel said a final decision will be taken after checking the technical reports (in case of foreign competitions) and certification of anti-doping watchdogs.
“We will probably arrive on a decision in 20 days,” he said. Another mark that might raise a few eyebrows would be that of sprint hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya. The Mumbai lad had clocked 13.54 in a US competition, which, if ratified, would better his own mark of 13.65s. However, the technical standards of the event would be examined closely as it hasn’t been ratified as a standard international competition. However, a section of coaches and athletes has been miffed by the ratification process. They felt it’s unfair to deny deserving athletes of their records just because the managers who accompanied them failed to carry out their responsibility.
“When they go for foreign competitions as a team, the AFI-appointed manager accompanies them. It’s his duty to collect the dope test results and other technical reports from foreign organisers and labs. Regarding the lab in Almaty, the WADA had informed national federations and anti-doping agencies about the suspension. If our officials had acted timely, we could’ve transferred their samples to other locations. Now they are penalising the athletes for their laxity,” said a member of the squad that toured Almaty.