Manu under dope cloud, Paris chances hit; AFI disappointed; coach Naik too under scrutiny

Published - June 28, 2024 08:29 pm IST - Panchkula

Coach Kashinath Naik and Manu.

Coach Kashinath Naik and Manu.

Indian sports has been hit by what is likely to be its biggest doping embarrassment of the year. Javelin thrower DP Manu — national champion, Olympic hopeful and currently 12th in the world — is under a dope cloud after his name was conspicuously absent from the entry list for the 63rd inter-State athletics championships.

Manu, who has struggled to repeat his personal best of 84.35m (2022), has been the biggest hope for completing a historic javelin trio — besides Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena — at Paris for India.

While there has been no official confirmation so far of his testing positive or a provisional suspension from the National Dope Testing Agency (NADA), it is learnt that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had been advised to not allow him to participate.

Sources in the know admitted he had tested positive for an anabolic steroid earlier this year, most likely during the Indian Grand Prix 1 in Bangalore, but there is no official communiqué so far. Federation officials expressed disappointment at the news.

“I can only say I was also surprised at the news when I got it in the morning. It is even more surprising because he has been tested around 14 times in the last one year, so there is no chance of not being aware or alert. It’s disappointing, that’s all I can say,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told The Hindu.

The disappointment is even more baffling given that Manu, despite not managing the qualifying mark of 85.50m, is placed comfortably high to make the cut through his world rankings and had no need for drastic measures.

Interestingly, Manu will be the third thrower trained by former Commonwealth Games medallist Kashinath Naik to be in the dope net if he is suspended for doping.

Davinder Singh Kang, the first Indian javelin thrower to make the World Championships final in 2017 and 2019 Asian Championships silver medalist Shivpal Singh, both training under Naik, too were earlier sanctioned for prohibited substances.

With the AFI now deciding to penalise coaches as well for dope offenses, Naik too will be under close scrutiny.

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