Centre orders probe on Monika dope scam
Source: The Sangai Express

New DeIhi/Imphal, August 13: Unhappy about Sports Authority of India's flip-flop over dope testing allegedly involving weightlifter Monika Devi, Sports Minister MS Gill today appointed former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy to inquire into all aspects of this matter.

Krishnamurthy has been asked to submit his report within a week, sources in the Sports Ministry said.

Gill, who returned here from Beijing early this morning, discussed all aspects of "this unfortunate incident" with his Ministry officials, had a meeting with Monika and spoke to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh over phone after which he ordered the inquiry "to know the precise truth".

The meeting between Gill and Monika lasted for 45 minutes.

Monika was stopped from going to Beijing on August 6 at the eleventh hour after she tested positive for an unspecified banned substance.

However, three days later she was cleared by the SAI of any wrong doing but the relief came too late for her to participate in the Olympics.

"On return from Beijing this morning, I have been briefed on matters related to Monika Devi, one of our weightlifters.

Questions arose about her dope testing and the timing and release of the reports, which led to her not being sent to Beijing Olympics" Gi11 said.

The Minister said al though weeding out dope offenders was one of his priorities but equally important for him was to ensure that no innocent athlete suffers due to official "laxity".

"I have told him (Krishnamurthy) to come to Delhi at the earliest to hold his inquiry and to favour me with his report and recommendations at the earliest" Gill said.

"As Sports Minister, while I am determined to'set up an independent technically proficient dope testing mechanism which has credibility in the world, I am also anxious that no sports person should suffer due to any laxity or delay on the part of this testing mechanism" he said.

"While ensuring prompt and firm action in Monika Devi's case, l am determined to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.

I want to assure all sports-persons that they will get full consideration and fair treatment from me at all times" he added.

Here in the State, reactions varied with certain individuals welcoming the Centre's decision to order an investigation contrary to the 'Coordinating Committee Against the Conspiracy to Exclude Monika from Beijing Olympic by Government of India' insisting that the investigation should have been entrusted and conducted at a higher level.

Talking to media-persons this evening at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium office of Manipur Olympic Association, the Committee's co-convenor Th Manihar classified the Krishnamurthy probe as 'executive enquiry' which could only end with the unearthing of internal lapses.

He also desired that State' Government make public its definite stance on the probe order initiated by the Union Sports Ministry and added that the Committee has convened, a meeting tomorrow to discuss the matter and chalk out future course of action.

The Committee, functionary also desired that as resolved during the August 11 public meeting on the issue civil society organisations sustain democratic form of agitation so as to weed out corruption from sports and exert pressure to the Government for a conclusive end to the scam.

He also informed that a meeting held today resol ved to initiate strong action against athletes as well as the State's Athletic Association for defying the public mandate of boycotting all national level sports competitions.

An athletic team is said to have left Imphal yesterday to participate in an athletic, meet outside the State.

Moreover, following an intimation by legal experts of Manipur presently practising at the Supreme Court of India to approach the apex court the Committee has approved such a move, he added.

As the enquiry has been ordered by the Union Govt reactions of some prominent citizens of the State suggest that after all justice will be done even though Monika's chances to compete with the world's best had been ruined.

The Sports Minister N Biren reminded that State Govt's' initial proposal was investigation by the CBI so as to pull up the guilty and ensure that such sordid episode do no surface in the future.

"Welcoming decision to investigate circumstances leading to the controversial exclusion of Monika from the Indian contingent, he said the inquiry and deadline set for,the probe is, a testimony of the Centre not taking the matter lightly.

Functionaries of Coordinating Committee formed in the aftermath of Monika's omission insisted that commenting at the moment would be premature, as the inquiry order would be deliberated at a meeting soon to be convened.

The Manipur Olympic Association, a constituent body of the Committee also expressed similarly saying that only after a decision in the meeting commenting on the matter would be appropriate.

Heartily welcoming the Centre's decision, Professor Amar Yumnam of Manipur University's Economics Dept described TS Krishnamurthy as a man of integrity and exuded confidence that justice would be delivered at the soonest.

While opining that the inquiry by the former Chief Election Commissioner would be effective, the Professor was on the view that in case the matter is handled by the CBI procedure normally adopted/followed by the investigation agency would be extensive and time consuming.