Doctor who led AFI’s fight against doping passes away
A couple of weeks ago, long jumper M. Sreeshankar had phoned Dr. Arun Kumar Mendiratta in Delhi regarding his COVID-19 vaccine.
“The doctor did not answer the call but after a few minutes, he sent a message which said, ‘I’m not able to speak, I’ve been hospitalised due to COVID and I have a throat block,” said the national record holder.
Mendiratta, the chairman of the Athletics Federation of India’s medical commission, passed away in Delhi owing to COVID-related complications. The doctor, who was also associated with the Asian Athletics Association for over 25 years, was 60.
“He led AFI’s relentless fight against age-fraud and doping. He was also the architect of our no-needle policy. Soft-spoken and genial, Dr. Mendiratta will be missed by the athletics community,” said Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president.
He was supposed to go to Tokyo as the chief medical officer of the Indian contingent for this July’s Olympics. He had accompanied Indian teams at various World championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics during his long career with Indian sports.
He had also gone to many national junior and youth championships to oversee the weeding out of athletes who attempted to fudge their age. “I used to call him frequently, whenever I took vitamins or medicines, I used to consult him,” said Olympian K.T. Irfan, the country’s leading racewalker, from Bengaluru.
“ It’s a big loss, I don’t know whether we will get another doctor like him.”
Asian Games champion Jinson Johnson said Mendiratta was very helpful.
“If we had doubts regarding anything, he used to explain things patiently. Nobody expected this to happen,” said the middle-distance star.
Meanwhile, Hima Das tweeted that Mendiratta had helped her a lot.
“Deeply pained… he helped me a lot during Commonwealth Games 2018 and Asian Games 2018,” she said.
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