Davinder’s Italy plan comes with plenty of hurdles

IAAF, which felt that countries were buying ready-made champions off the shelf from poor countries, put a stop to nationality changes in February and has decided to bring in new rules by the end of this year.

And though Davinder’s personal best of 84.57m is very close to Italy’s 18-year-old national record of 84.60m, it is not easy to move to Italy these days.   -  V. Raju

He is the lone Indian to enter the final of an individual event at the recent World Athletics Championships in London. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games lined up next year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, javelin thrower Davinder Singh surely deserves all the support and funding to be in his best form at these majors.

But news running around that the 28-year-old has threatened to compete for Italy unless he gets more Government funding, has come as a bit of a surprise.

Read earlier report

Davinder, also a bronze medallist at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in July, does not figure in the Union Sports Ministry’s recent list of athletes who come under the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, which comes with a monthly stipend of ₹50,000, and this is the reason for the Punjab javelin thrower’s outburst.

But why is Davinder’s name missing from the list?

Bahadur Singh, the chief national coach, has an explanation.

Verdict awaited

“Being the lone Indian to enter the final at the Worlds, Davinder surely deserves to be in the TOP scheme. But we are waiting for the verdict to come in his recent doping case, once he is cleared he will surely be included in the TOP scheme,” Bahadur Singh, the Chief National Coach, told the Sportstar from Patiala on Thursday evening.

Davinder had tested positive for marijuana, a recreational drug, in the urine sample taken during the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi in May, and the result came in just a few days before the Asians.

Since marijuana, a specified substance, does not attract a provisional suspension under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) code, Davinder was cleared for the Asians and also took part in the Worlds.

But the fact is, his case has not been resolved yet, he could still be slapped with a sanction. That is also the reason why the Athletics Federation of India has not recommended his name for the TOP scheme.

According to a media report, Davinder has said that he is in talks with Italy’s Campionati Nazionali Universitari, an elite sports training scheme, but strangely, when the name was put to Google translator, it just said ‘National University Championships’!

IAAF’s transfer freeze

And though Davinder’s personal best of 84.57m is very close to Italy’s 18-year-old national record of 84.60m, it is not easy to move to Italy these days.

The governing body for world athletics IAAF, which felt that countries were manipulating the rules and buying ready-made champions off the shelf from poor countries, put a stop to nationality changes in February and has decided to bring in new rules by the end of this year.

The International Olympic Committee also a rule that if an athlete has represented a country in the Olympics or Worlds, he can only compete for his new country three years after he had represented his former country. However, it also mentions that this period may be reduced or waived off altogether in special cases.

National camper

For now, Davinder is a national camper and his training regime is covered by the Government.

“Since he is a national camper now, all his expenses for the camp are paid for by the Government,” said the chief coach Bahadur.

The best thing for Davider now is to hope that he is let off without any penalty in his marijuana case.

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