Four members of the Indian squad that went to Manila for the 29th Asia-Pacific Junior Golf Championship in early May have been slapped with bans by the Indian Golf Union (IGU) on disciplinary grounds.
The bans, which came into effect last month, will see Sharmila Nicolette (17) and Abhijeet Chadha (16) miss the entire season, while Rahul Bakshi (17) and Ashbeer Saini (14) will have to sit out for three months. There were 12 players in the squad. Ashbeer, incidentally, bagged top honours in the under-15 category and India finished third in the team event.
Sources said these players smuggled alcohol into their hotel rooms on the night the tournament got over at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club. However, team officials or the IGU refused to divulge why these players were suspended.
While Gaurav Ghosh and Indrajit Bhalotia, who accompanied the contingent for the May 6-9 event as manager and coach, respectively, refused to comment pointing to a gag issued by the IGU, the governing body of amateur golf, the officials vied with each other in their bid to be evasive.
Jaideep Chitlangia, chairman of the junior selection committee, confirmed the bans but refused to dwell on the circumstances that led to the Bangalore-based Sharmila and the Chandigarh trio to be banned. “They are young and got on the wrong side of the law and as the parent body we had to take corrective action. They have been punished enough, let’s not rake it and destroy their careers.”
Wing Commander (retd) Satish Aparajit, secretary general, IGU, went ballistic. “I refuse to comment on the issue. You people never write when the players do well, but the slightest hint of controversy interests you. (HT carried write-ups on the event and its build-up that included the preparatory camp in Kolkata.)
“The players, specially, Sharmila, have been through enough. This is not cricket, we don’t have money to throw around. Harping on this matter will do no good. They have been punished and have already suffered enough,” he said.
While Sharmila and Rahul could not be reached for their comments (the latter is reportedly abroad and is expected to return next week), their parents were categorical. “We would not like to comment as our children’s careers are at stake.”