New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) The Delhi High Court in an interim order Friday directed the central government to immediately allow the four banned quarter-milers preparing for the 2012 London olympics to train at Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres.
The four athletes -- Ashwini Akkunji, Sini Jose, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar -- approached the high court after SAI asked them to leave its centre in Sonepat where the girls were training.
Justice Vipin Sanghi, issuing notice to the union government, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), sought their response by May 16.
"The high court has direct the government to allow the petitioners to train for the upcoming Olympic Games at any of the SAI centres in the country," counsel for the athletes said.
In the petition the athletes also sought the quashing of the one-year ban imposed on them. They were banned for a year by NADA last year and it was to end on June 27, just in time for them to be eligible to take part in the qualification events.
Though the WADA rules clearly prohibit them to train at any official centre, the four athletes were found working out at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonepat.
The athletes were asked to leave the SAI centre after the issue was brought to the attention of Sports Minister Ajay Maken, who also initiated an inquiry.
SAI director general Desh Deepak Verma told IANS that the government would decide the next step after looking into the court order.
"We have to look into the court order and then we will decide on our next step," he said.
Verma also said that SAI's executive director (team's wing) P.C. Kashyap and SAI centre Sonepat's head Sanjeev Sharma have been asked to explain why action should not be initiated against them for allowing the banned athletes to train at the Sonepat centre in violation of the WADA rules.
"They have been given notice and asked to explain how the athletes were training there. We were not satisfied with their answers and have asked them to submit fresh applications," he said.
Kashyap, in his defence, said: "I have given my explanation. At times we do make mistakes, but we also have to think about the future of the girls. They are innocent."
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