Friday, September 29, 2023

POA suspends AFP’s membership for indefinite period

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has suspended membership of the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) indefinitely for its failure on many accounts that include upholding the sanctity of clean and dope-free culture within its domain and refusal to cooperate with the committee formed under the directions of Anti-Doping Authority of Pakistan (ADOP) to implement rules and recommendations of the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA).

When ‘The News’ broke the story on September 15 that the concerned authorities want further probe into the AFP’s role in the whole episode that resulted in three positive tests for banned drugs during the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal in 2019, the uninformed AFP had issued a letter demanding action against this correspondent calling the story ‘fake news’.

The fact is that the story was based on facts as the ADOP had sent an advice to the POA to investigate the matter further in line with the WADA rules. The stance of this correspondent and the previous story published stand vindicated.

After thorough investigation, the POA has suspended the AFP from taking part in national or international athletics activities.

The suspension letter says: “In pursuance of the decision of the Executive Committee of POA and advice of the Anti-Doping Organization of Pakistan (NADO), the membership of the AFP is hereby suspended with immediate effect.”

The suspension came following AFP’s inability to handle the pre-Games matters and its failure to cooperate with the probe committee formed by the POA.

Mehboob Ali, Muhammad Naeem and Sami Ullah tested positive during the SA Games and subsequently were banned.

“It is a fact that eventually it is the athlete who is responsible for his act of doping but in our environment, the athlete may not be acting alone and therefore the aspect of complicity should never be ruled out,” the POA says.

It adds that AFP refused to provide documents and arrange personal appearance as was requisitioned by the probe committee on October 19 and 20 and ignored its request to Secretary General AFP to be present in the POA office on October 25. In fact the AFP instructed the athletes and their support personnel not to appear before the committee, says POA.

The POA says the president of AFP approached certain members of the probe committee, urging them to do away with the enquiry, which indicated “some sort of complicity on the part of the AFP”.

The POA says athletes except the banned ones will be facilitated, after due process, to participate in international or national events/programmes of the POA, in particular the Olympic or regional games during the course of suspension as athletes of the NOC.

The AFP can file an appeal to regain the membership after complying with instructions that include: Establishment of a comprehensive whistle-blowing programme that is easily accessible by their athletes, officials and concerned personnel to report any instance related to doping; furnishing the data and information as requisitioned by the POA; arranging the presence of the athletes and officials before the POA/probe committee; pursuing return of the medals and cash awards by the athletes.

“The POA shall constitute an inspection team to evaluate the compliance of the aforementioned instructions and in particular the doping controls enforced by the AFP. The inspection team will initiate evaluation within thirty days upon receiving a written request from AFP for reinstatement of membership with POA. The inspection team upon concluding the evaluation shall submit its report within sixty days to the executive committee of POA for its consideration and decision as deemed appropriate,” says the POA letter.

Source: The News

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