In his bid to avail of benefits under the category ‘financial assistant to the national sports federation’, international wrestling referee Raj Singh has allegedly fudged his age in his passport.
This sports ministry encourages qualified officials to officiate in international competitions across the globe. Raj Singh, also the secretary-general of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), retired from the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in 2007 after attaining the age of 60. But his passport, a copy of which is in HT's possession, shows he will turn 60 on August 15, 2013.
As per the rules of the world body, FILA, no official above 60 is eligible to officiate in international competitions. Despite being overage, Raj Singh qualified as a Category I FILA referee, and from 2007-2012 travelled to international competitions on government funds. When contacted, Raj Singh said it was FILA’s job and not that of a journalist to enquire about his age in the passport.
“When FILA has no objection, why raise it,” he said. He did admit he had retired from MTNL in 2007 but denied manipulating his age. “I was issued the passport in 1971. The details are the same in 2012,” he said.
As per FILA rules, each participating nation has to field one referee with the team in an international competition. Nations that don't send officials with their team have to pay a penalty of 2000 Swiss francs to the international body.
This rule allowed Raj Singh to avail of financial assistance from the government for major tournaments, including the Asian Games. He last availed of the grant for the World Championships in September.
This year, Raj Singh has been ranked under the 'honorary category' by FILA, which renders him ineligible to officiate in international events, yet he has applied for a government grant to travel to Colorado Springs, USA, for the January 30- February 2 Dave Schultz Memorial Tournament. His application is yet to be cleared by the Sports Authority of India.