CHENNAI: ON Wednesday, India rower Dattu Bhokanal was relieved as Bombay High Court quashed the First Information Report (FIR) filed against him on charges of cheating and harassing his wife.
The 2018 Asian Games gold medallist had moved the court on June 26, and cited not being able to participate in the World Rowing Championship (in Austria from August 25 to September 1) as one of the reasons for being cleared, among other arguments.
However, according to Rowing Federation of India (RFI), Dattu has been suspended since April 30, until April 29, 2021. The decision was taken by the federation for two reasons and was conveyed to the athlete via mails, which are in possession with this daily.
When asked if there is any chance whether Dattu will travel with the squad for the Worlds, an RFI official was quick to reply in negative. “He knows he is banned from rowing. Now he is committing perjury in court by saying he will go for Worlds,” the official told this daily. The Indian team is currently training at the Army Rowing Node in Pune and will leave for Austria on August 22. Despite efforts to reach him, Dattu was unavailable for a comment.
In a show-cause notice sent to the rower, RFI alleged that Dattu stopped rowing after the 1,000m-mark during the men’s singles scull event of last year’s Asian Games, without any reason or explanation. They also alleged that he nominated an unknown girl as a coach, who got a cash award of `12 lakh from the Maharashtra Government, for participating at the Jakarta Games, with the intention of sharing the award for personal gain.
In reply, Dattu accepted all allegations. “It is a great shame for me to have left a race incomplete... I was unwell. My boat overturned on the day of the race. My lungs were filled with water. I tried my best but it was impossible to breathe. Considering the next day’s MX4 race, I did not want to let down my team. I had to regretfully give up the race,” he said in the letter.
He also apologised for nominating an unknown girl for the cash award. “The fault is entirely mine, which was a result of, my wrong interpretation of Maharashtra GR Appendix A Rule 4 (iii)... There was no intent of misleading/misuse of provision... I have no relationship with the lady and I assure you that I will never ever commit financial fraud.”
In response to Dattu’s plea, RFI sent a mail alerting him of the suspension dates. They also said that he could have informed the manager of the team if he was unwell before the race, as there is a provision is FISA rules for substitutions. “There were sufficient reserves in Palembang who could have substituted you in the race with better results. You failed to disclose this fact due to ulterior motives and have caused embarrassment to RFI,” the letter said.