The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is seriously considering the inclusion of Ashwini Akkunji in the Indian women’s 4x400m squad, providing a new twist in the decades-old saga over the selection of Indian relay teams for major meets.
Many times in the past, athletes have complained of being treated badly in the selection of relay squads and the AFI getting them to compete in trials prior to major meets, including the Olympic Games, is nothing new to Indian athletics. However, what comes as a total surprise is the move to include an athlete who had been banned over the last two years for a doping infringement, till Wednesday.
The AFI has reportedly even got the go-ahead from the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for Ashwini’s return to action here. In the event of the AFI finally deciding in favour of the Karnataka runner, it remains to be seen how the national body would get her name into the team list, as such lists are frozen after the technical committee meeting a day prior to the major events.
AFI secretary C.K. Valson neither confirmed nor denied the reports regarding the inclusion of Ashwini when approached by The Hindu. “I will speak to you about this on Friday,” he said.