Sprint champion among four athletes in disgrace after repeat offending
SEA Games gold medallist Jirapong Meenapra has been banned from all competition for one year by the Athletics Association of Thailand (AAT) due to code of conduct violations.
The 24-year-old from Surat Thani and three other national team members – Apisit Promkaew, Rattanapon Sowan and Natthapong Wirawongrattanasiri – were found to have breached articles No 21 and 23 of the AAT Charter by sneaking out of a training camp at Thammasatat Rangsit Campus at night-time, the AAT said yesterday.
“The above athletes have violated the rules before and are in fact under probation,” said AAT vice-president and secretary-general Surapong Ariyamongkol.
“They are therefore subject to penalty article No 6.3 of the encampment rules and must be expelled from the camp and at the same time refrain from engagement in local and international competitions for one year effective from October 10, 2017.
Surapong said later that the penalties were for repeat misbehaviour.
“The four of them have violated the rules several times. Therefore, we have decided to come up with this punishment,” he said.
“But they are open to send a petition. If the disciplinary committee finds them guilty, we will stick with our decision and support only well-disciplined athletes. Their behaviour could be a bad influence on young athletes. We’d better start producing new ones.”
Rules have often been broken at the camp in recent years but athletes have been given second chances and the AAT has always kept quiet, fearing that condemning them in public could affect their reputations.
Jirapong, a member of the gold medal men’s 4x200m relay team in Kuala Lumpur two months ago, was expelled from the training camp earlier this year but was then recalled for the SEA Games and was able to regain his fitness in time to participate and win gold.
He burst on to the international stage at the 2013 Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, as the gold medallist in both the 100m and 200m.
However, disciplinary problems have hampered him ever since and has failed to win any further titles.
Once the powerhouse of athletics in this region, Thailand earned just nine gold medals, seven of them in field disciplines, in the August SEA Games.
Misconduct by athletes is believed to be one of the causes of the downfall, which prompted the Olympic Committee of Thailand to call for a major clean-up in the AAT.