Indian boxer L Sarita Devi was handed a one-year ban and a fine of Swiss Franc (CHF) 1,000 (around Rs 66,000) for her outburst at the Asian Games in South Korea, where she refused to accept her bronze medal following a controversial semi-final loss.
The ban imposed by the AIBA, the world governing body of the sport, will not spoil 29-year-old Sarita’s chances of competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sarita would be eligible to compete in the women’s Olympic qualifiers scheduled to start at the end of 2015.
The AIBA, however, imposed a stronger two-year ban on coach BI Fernández. The Cuban coach, who has been handholding Indian boxers for some time now, was also handed a higher fine of CHF 2,000 (around Rs 1.32 lakh).
The AIBA revoked chief national coach GS Sandhu’s suspension.
Following Sarita’s protest at the Asian Games, the AIBA had provisionally suspended the boxer along with the officials.
On September 30, Sarita got a highly dubious decision in the semi-final of her lightweight (60kg) bout against South Korean opponent Park Ji-Na.
The inconsolable boxer refused to accept her bronze medal at the presentation ceremony in Incheon and presented it to Park.
She found support from unexpected quarter later. Home favourite Park said, “I am embarrassed by what has happened. She (Sarita) was the winner yesterday,” Park had told a media briefing.
The AIBA communicated the punishment to Boxing India in an email on Tuesday evening.
Though a setback, Sarita’s Olympics dreams stay alive. She had not made the cut for the 2012 London Olympics, where women boxing made its debut.
She was out of action for almost two years subsequently and had a son last year.
Sarita made a comeback this year during the trials for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and went on to win silver at the event.
Because of the provisional ban following the Asian Games, she had to miss the World Championship last month.
The Indian government has asked the AIBA to revoke the ban.