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Wrestlers pay to turn out for the country

The Sports Ministry has earmarked around Rs 700 crores for the preparation of athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. But here are sportspersons, preparing for the mega-event, who are shelling out money from their pockets to compete in international competitions, reports Saurabh Duggal.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2009 00:46 IST
Saurabh Duggal

The Sports Ministry has earmarked around Rs 700 crores for the preparation of athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. But here are sportspersons, preparing for the mega-event, who are shelling out money from their pockets to compete in international competitions.

Two wrestling contingents had to shell out money from their pockets recently to compete in international competitions, but almost three months down the line they are still waiting for reimbursements.

Each of the 21 grapplers who went to Belarus in February dished out around Rs 34,000 from their pockets, while another 14-member squad had to pay around Rs 15, 000 each for competing in the Ibrahim Moustafa tournament in Egypt in mid-March.

“Before we left, the Wrestling Federation of India had told us the Sports Ministry would reimburse the money on our return, but it’s more than two months and we are still waiting,” said a core group wrestler, who shelled out Rs 34,000.

“In 2007, we spent from our pockets to compete in the Commonwealth Championship but the money was promptly reimbursed. We can’t put pressure on the federation or the ministry as they would create hindrances for us,” he added.

WFI general secretary Kartar Singh said, “We had run out of funds, so we asked the wrestlers to pay from their pockets and we would reimburse them once we receive the money from the ministry. I don’t know the present status…if they haven’t received the money yet, it will be refunded soon.”

A senior ministry official, however, said, “The WFI had sent us the proposal late but it’s more than a month since we released the amount.”

So where has the money gone?

“We did receive the money spent on the twin tours but utilised it for another tournament in Ukraine.

The ministry has now cleared all our dues, so now the money will be refunded soon,” said a WFI official.

As per the ministry’s International Sports Division norms, the federations should shell out any additional amount required for meeting the genuine requirements of the team or any of its members including coach and support staff.

The federations cannot pass on any of the costs to the sportspersons. But in this case, norms have certainly not been followed.