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AITA to probe Bhupathi’s claims

India's tennis chiefs ordered an inquiry into claims made by doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi that he was asked to throw a Davis Cup match in 1996, reports Deepika Sharma.

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2008 22:59 IST
Deepika Sharma

Mahesh Bhupathi's statement that he was asked to throw a Davis Cup match in 1996 has caused a stir. On Tuesday, while announcing India’s Davis Cup squad for next month’s tie against Uzbekistan in New Delhi, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) said it was appointing a committee to investigate.

"We are taking a serious note of what Mahesh said," Anil Khanna, the AITA secretary-general, said. “Therefore, we are setting up a committee to check whether something like this has taken place. Since Mahesh is a senior player, we have to look into the matter."

AITA seemed upset that Bhupathi spoke about an incident, supposed to have taken 12 years ago, to the media. “He’s brought up a subject that has now got international publicity,” Khanna said. “It’s the first time that such an incident is speculated to have taken place in India. It definitely affects the image of the country. If it happened, it happened 12 years ago. We will get former players to discuss the matter. What the incident was, how serious it was, we will know soon,” he said.

Bhupathi defended himself. "I did not rake it up on my own,” he told Hindustan Times from Melbourne. “I only answered a question." Bhupathi said he did not know the person who approached him in Jaipur during the tie against the Netherlands. Asked if he, as a veteran, thought match-fixing existed in tennis, he replied, “I don’t think so.”

Khanna said that in future players should follow a code of conduct. "The captain should be aware if something like this is going on with a player in his team. There should be a code of conduct."

Soon after announcing a committee to check into Bhupathi’s statement, the AITA boss, somewhat ironically, said there was no need to take steps to rid the game of corruption since it was clean anyway. “There is no need for any measures to ensure that match-fixing does not take place in India. In the past, results have proved that there is no match-fixing here,” Khanna said.

Paes is non-playing captain

Leander Paes, who sprained his ankle at the Australian Open, has been named the Davis Cup non-playing captain. The team comprises Bhupathi, India’s top singles player Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Somdev Dev Varman. India play Uzbekistan from Feb. 8-10. National champions Ashutosh Singh and Vishnu Vardhan have been named as standbys. Farrukh Dustov and Denis Istomin are expected to lead the Uzbek challenge.