Is Sharad Kumar still going to pay for his Doping past?

Sharad Kumar, Six Sports

Indian athletes have performed exceptionally well in both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games this year. Sharad Kumar was one of those who represented India in the Paralympics this year. The 29-year-old won a bronze medal in the men’s High Jump (T63).

Kumar started his career in 2010 at the Asian Para Games. 2012 was a major setback for him, as he was found in a doping test that blocked his participation in the 2012 Paralympics. In 2014, Sharad made his comeback in style by winning gold in the 2014 Asian Para Games. 

This year after securing the bronze in the Paralympic, Sharad along with 35 other athletes of India were nominated for the Arjuna Award. The award is to honor the sportsperson for their accomplishment at the International level. 

Sharad Kumar, Six Sports

Sharad Kumar making a comeback

However, a guideline of the Sports Ministry states that any athlete who has failed in the doping test is not eligible to receive the honour. 

Sharad, after his comeback from the doping ban, has been excellent and consistent. He has performed at the highest level representing the country in major events like the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games. Sharad had a fantastic Tokyo Paralympics as he came up with a podium finish. 

According to the Anti Doping guidelines, if an athlete was found guilty of using a performance-enhancing substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency bans them. Moreover, they are also forbidden from receiving any awards.

” It is a good thing that the sports ministry has recognized my performance and considered me good for the Arjuna Awards, But I have my fingers crossed whether I will receive the Arjuna Award because some people might protest as I had failed the dope test in 2012,”

said the Paralympic bronze medalist.

Sharad said that in the past he had never applied for the National Sports Awards, due to restrictions from the Sports Ministry. According to him, the guidelines were relaxed by the authorities this year, which allowed athletes with a doping history to apply for the awards.

“Even those who have had a failed dope test in the past can apply for the awards,”

added Sharad.

Sharad Kumar, Six Sports

Ministry’s relaxation policy

Athletes like Sharad Kumar were given the chance after National Awards norms were relaxed by Ministry. Recently, a circular was published by the Sports Ministry in which the norms regarding applying for National Sports Awards were changed. It was stated that athletes with a past of failed doping history can also apply for the award.

Although, the relaxation still created a lot of buzz, as many thought it was a favor for the doping test failing athletes. This ultimately led to the removal of the changes by the Ministry in August.

Some other athletes with doping past

Eventually, names of many elite athletes popped up, who were denied National Sports Awards previously for the rules. Among such was a name of Renjith Maheshwary, who was an International Triple Jumper from Tamil Nadu.

Another such athlete was Seema Punia, who was a Commonwealth and Asian Games medalist in the Discus Throw. Seema’s application was also rejected by the Ministry for the award. The same thing happened with Amit Panghal, after he finished second in the World Boxing Championship in 2019. 

For Sharad Kumar failing the dope test cost him a lot as he lost his place in the 2012 Paralympics and was suspended for two years. This is a matter which Sharad doesn’t want to talk about at all.

“I don’t want to comment on the 2012 doping issue,”

said the high jumper.

The step taken by the Sports Ministry, was a great initiative. The previous rules were not all good, as they prevented many elite athletes from getting recognition for their achievements for the country.

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