Nearly five years after the then Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran went missing, and later failing dope tests to end up with a four-year ban, another prominent quartermiler Aishwarya Mishra has now gone incommunicado.
Nobody in the Athletics Federation of India knows where the 24-year-old Aishwarya, Asia’s fastest quartermiler this year and the third fastest Indian ever with her 51.18s at the recent Federation Cup, is now or where she is training. And the World Championships and Commonwealth Games are just about two months away!
“Missing, phones switched off,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told The Hindu on Tuesday when asked about Aishwarya’s whereabouts.
The Maharashtra quartermiler was in the list of athletes cleared by Sports Authority of India, on AFI’s recommendation as it was keen on including her in relays, for a training and competition trip to Turkey and was expected to fly out on April 27.
“But she did not turn up for the visa appointment… I tried to contact her many times, her phone was switched off,” said a senior national coach.
Aishwarya’s official 400m graph looks stunning. She had clocked 54.61s in 2019 and had floated around that time last year too (54.60) but her Malappuram Federation Cup time shocked everybody.
It helped her qualify (entry standard 51.35) for this July’s World Championships (USA) but her time has raised eyebrows all over the country and outside.
Perhaps expecting Aishwarya in Turkey, a team from the Athletics Integrity Unit was in Antalya to conduct dope tests recently.
“Everybody has been tested, the AIU had been to Turkey to test the Indian team,” said Sumariwalla.
With discus thrower Kamalpreet Singh (sixth, Tokyo Olympics), and India’s No. 2 javelin thrower Shivpal Singh testing positive recently, there is a cause for concern.
Can the AFI stop Aishwarya from going to the Worlds?
“By which rule,” asked Sumariwalla. “AFI is not a dope-testing agency. National Anti-Doping Agency has to take action.”