The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sunita ordeal finally over

New Delhi: Distance runner Sunita Rani’s ordeal was finally over on Friday with the world athletics body absolving the athlete of doping charges, paving the way for her participation in international events and return of medals snatched from the recent Busan Asian Games.

Close on the heels of the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation that Sunita’s case should not be pursued further, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in a letter to the Amateur Athletic Association of India (AAFI) that its investigation into the case led to the decision that the charges against the athlete be dropped.

“The IAAF’s position finally is that this is not a case which should be pursued any further as a doping offence under IAAF rules,” IAAF’s anti-doping officer Dr Gabriel Dolle said in the letter.

AAFI secretary Lalit Bhanot told reporters here the letter has paved the way for Sunita, who was under a temporary suspension, to participate in all national and international meets.

Sunita’s Asian Games medals, which were taken away after she allegedly tested positive for a banned substance, were expected to be returned by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) by the end of this month.

Based on the report of the one-man Sushil Salwan inquiry committee, which held Sunita innocent, the AAFI had put forward its protest at Monaco (IAAF headquarters). In response to the protest, IAAF reviewed the case and finally replied in their letter that the case should not be pursued further.

Salwan, who was also present at the press conference, said, “it is an honour and pride for the whole nation that we were able to make the international body accept our findings”.

Asked if the Indian authorities were considering any action against those guilty of tarnishing the image of the athlete and the country, both Salwan and Bhanot said “that step would be considered once the medals were returned”.

Coach to be reinstated

Meanwhile, Sunita Rani’s coach Renu Kohli, who was suspended after doping allegations against the athlete, will be reinstated soon following the IAAF’s ruling.

“I had always maintained that Sunita was innocent. Now we feel vindicated finally,” a visibly relieved Kohli said.

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