The case of alleged sexual harassment of two female shooters during the ISSF shotgun World Cup in Acapulco (Mexico) had come to the notice of the chief coach M Padmanabhan and coach Amar Jung, but since the 'aggrieved' party was not willing to give a written complaint, it did not find mention in the report submitted by the coaches to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
Two double-trap marksmen had allegedly entered the girls' room in Acapulco event in March and had insisted on sleeping there.
One of the two boys happened to be involved in another case of alleged sexual harassment in Suhl, Germany, during an international competition earlier this month and was subsequently suspended by NRAI pending probe.
Breaking his silence on the Acapulco incident, Padmanabhan told HT, “We were waiting in the morning for the team bus to ferry us to the airport a day after the competition when I came to know that something had happened, but did not know exactly what had happened. Amar Jung was speaking to the girls and I happened to overhear,” said the chief coach. “But when I spoke to the girls, they said they did not want to give it in writing.”
When asked if he had questioned the boys too, Padmanabhan said, “I didn't…since there was nothing in writing, I did not mention it in my report to the federation,” he said.
Asked if more stringent monitoring was the need of the hour, Padmanabhan said: “Boys and girls are chatting up and going out together to party. How long can we monitor them? At the end of the day, they have to behave themselves.”
A senior coach, not wishing to be named, said: “Agreed the girls didn't file a written complaint, but it is the job of the coach accompanying the squad to give a detailed report of what all happened during the tour, especially when the issue involved is that of alleged sexual harassment.”
Asked whether the cousin of one of the girls, who went on his own expenses to compete in the MQS (minimum qualification scores) category, had raised the issue, Padmanabhan said, he was not aware of it.
“If the cousin was there, he should have given a written complaint on behalf of the girls. Why didn't he?”
On the alleged involvement of one boy in both the cases in Acapulco and Suhl, Padmanabhan said: “It's a very shameful thing if it has happened. It has to be nipped in the bud. An athletes' commission has been constituted and it's looking into the allegations.”