The recent reports of age fudging appearing in the
seem to have caught the attention of the Sports Ministry. On Friday, pending the formulation of a National Code against age fraud in sports, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports swung into action and issued detailed guidelines to all sports federations, directing all the bodies to treat overage issue on the same lines as anti-doping measures, as both amount to cheating and violation of the basic spirit of sport.
Terming the issue as a matter of grave concern, the Ministry’s communication states, “In the recent past, incidents of age fraud committed by athletes in some major tournaments and selection trials have come to the notice of the government. It is imperative that stringent action is taken against athletes found guilty and also against their abettors.”
It further says that the National Code would be brought out at an early date.
According to one of the points made in the guideline sent to the president and secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), national federations, state associations and the director-general of the Sports Authority of India, the federations should introduce a system of issuing identity cards to national athletes, complete with the photograph, signature, date of birth of the player, date of issue of the ID and its validity period.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) claims to have a foolproof ID system in place. HT had earlier reported the overage controversies that marred the recently concluded Pramod Mahajan Tournament in Delhi. The event saw a few ugly episodes, following which the organisers decided to conduct age-verification tests.
BAI president V.K Verma refused to speak to HT when asked to comment on the issue, “I don’t want to talk about the issue just now.”
Sudhanshu Mittal, the patron of the coveted event said, “It’s too late for the government to issue the guidelines, but better late than never. We had to face a huge uproar when we took the less-travelled road and went ahead with the medical tests. I think the guidelines will make things easier for us,” he said.
India football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia said that it was a welcome move but added a rider, “ Age fudging is a huge problem in India. Many deserving players do not even stand an outside chance because of the menace. The AIFF (All India Football Federation) is yet to come up with a concrete plan. This news is surely a good one for players, especially the kids.”
Alberto Colaco, secretary-general of the AIFF did not revert to the mail when asked for his comments.