Rower Dattu Bhokanal’s two-year suspension on charges of tanking a race during the 2018 Asian Games was on Thursday lifted by the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) after the intervention of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra.
Bhokanal was a member of the Indian quartet that won a gold in the men’s quadruple sculls event in the Asian Games but later left the single sculls race midway. He was banned by the RFI in March last year.
In his explanation, Bhokanal had said that he fell off the boat as it overturned and he was also not well on that day. But after Batra asked the RFI to review its decision, the national rowing body informed the IOA chief that Bhokanal’s suspension has been lifted.
“It’s confirmed the 2-year suspension of rower Bhokanal Dattu has been removed with effect from 23 Jan 2020, he will be advised to prepare for Olympic qualification regatta to be held from 27-30 April 2020 at Changju, Korea, provided he is the best sculler out of those who are training at the moment, which will be determined after proper trials are carried out,” RFI President Rajlaxmi Singh Deo said in a letter to Batra.
RFI’s decision to lift the ban on Bhokanal came just a day after Batra asked the national rowing body to provide “all the replies” sought by him by Friday, failing which the case will be referred to the IOC Disciplinary Committee.
Initially, Rajlaxmi had told Batra that the case has been referred to RFI’s Athletes Commission “which had originally dealt with the matter and their opinion is awaited”.
Bhokanal had last month approached IOA Athletes’ Commission head and former World Championships bronze medal-winning long jumper Anju Bobby George who brought the matter to IOA’s notice.
In a letter to the IOA, Anju had asked for a reduction in the ban period of Bhokanal in view of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
It led to Batra asking the RFI to review its decision and furnish him the relevant rules of the national federation as well as those of the international body under which Bhokanal was handed a “harsh” ban.
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