The efforts of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to ensure a swift rehabilitation of dope-tainted Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Pawar back into the international fold was nipped in the bud by the Technical Delegates (TDs) of the 20th Asian athletics meet here on Friday.

The AFI wrote to the TDs on Friday morning seeking permission to include two unnamed athletes in the Indian team and thereby the women’s 4x400m relay squad.

In their reply, the TDs told the AFI that they were in no position to entertain such a request in accordance with the rules approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Speaking to The Hindu, the TDs, Wong Tien Choy (Singapore) and Yuko Seki (Japan), said, “as it is the entry list remains frozen since July 2 and what we do on a daily basis is to reconfirm them prior to the start of each day’s proceedings.

“So taking into consideration the IAAF rules, we have already replied to the AFI rejecting its application,” Choy said.

Meanwhile, the AAA secretary, Michael R. Nicholas, also made it clear that the association would not interfere in the working of the TDs. “In these matters, their decisions are final,” he said. 

The AFI defended itself by putting the entire blame for the sad episode on the media. Talking to newsmen, the AFI president, Adille J. Sumariwala, said the athletes had made an application to him seeking entry in the championships and he, in turn, had referred it to the TDs for the required sanction.

“I believe we have done nothing wrong and I am sorry to state that the media, over-reacting without cross-checking, is to be blamed for the unnecessary controversy,” he said.

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