Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin today sought to scotch speculation of his romantic relationship with Jwala Gutta, saying the ace badminton doubles player is just a "good friend."
According to media reports, Azharuddin has been dating 26-year-old Jwala and is on the verge of filing for divorce from his wife of 14 years Sangeeta Bijlani within a week.
However, Azharuddin, a Congress MP from Moradabad, rubbished all such reports, terming them as baseless, fabricated and in bad taste.
"These reports are completely rubbish, baseless and are in bad taste. I am very hurt by all these. I know Jwala, she is a good friend of mine and to write such reports which are completely false and fabricated is disgusting," a livid Azharuddin said.
Azhar said these are motivated by people in the Badminton Association of India, who want to tarnish his image since he tried to contest for the presidential elections last month.
"These are planted stories and motivated by people, who are against me in the Badminton Association of India. I think they should look into their homes first before casting aspersions on others and make such allegations," he said.
"Jwala is a very good player and she is a great prospect for the country. She has been doing well and will win many medals for the country in future. So I just want to request everybody to just leave her alone and not get her into this cheap controversy," he added.
World number seven mixed doubles player Jwala is married to India's ace shuttler Chetan Anand, who is also the current national champion.
According to the media report, which quoted a source from the Andhra Pradesh Badminton Association, Jwala was seen many times with Azharuddin after her practice session at the Gachibowli stadium.
The 47-year-old cricketer was also spotted with Jwala during the Asian Badminton Championship in Delhi.
Azharuddin played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for India and has two sons -- Asaduddin and Abbasuddin -- from his eight-year marriage to first wife Naureen.
After his divorce with Naureen, he married Bollywood actress Sangeeta Bijlani.