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An arbitrary ban minus logic

sports Updated: Sep 17, 2012 10:41 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
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There really is no need for this writer to thrust his opinion on you about the two-year ban on national representation that the tennis federation has slapped on Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. Facts are far more damning than tomes of opinion. In this case, there are many which refute this dictatorial decree.

To begin with, there is nothing in the body's constitution that spells out a two-year ban for alleged bad behaviour. After all, there isn't any code of conduct. If Bhupathi and Bopanna were guilty of shenanigans, then so was Leander Paes. He, however, has not been censured. The federation has also accepted Paes' reasoning of being 'emotionally disturbed' to skip the tie in Chandigarh.

Confusing signal
The signal sent out to the next generation of players is confusing. If all the seniors were behaving like warring brats but only two get disciplined, what's the logic?

Two-year bans in the world of tennis accrue to major doping offenders. Not those who refuse to cow down to the dictates of their national body.

Since the federation accepts state funding with alacrity shouldn't it also adopt the norms that dictate the conduct of a public authority?

Before passing such a damning decree, the players need to be given a hearing.

The ban has been passed based on proceedings far from the public eye amongst a bunch of people who have been hanging around for decades, holding on to their official chairs even as tennis in India continues to slumber.

The legal standing of this diktat of the executive committee will make for an interesting debate in the courts.

The AITA would have done well to read the guidelines of its parent body - the International Tennis Federation (ITF) - vis-a-vis participation in the Olympics. The ITF's regulations for London 2012 state that all disputes pertaining to participation in Olympics become the responsibility of the local National Olympic Committee, in our case the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). As such, any ban should have been imposed only once the IOA had approved it. Till Sunday, AITA had not contacted IOA on the issue.

Then, Bopanna, at 32, is the youngest of the three doubles specialists from India. He still has a mean singles game and offers the Davis Cup captain a solid option in case he has to shoulder that responsibility.

The federation has taken away this choice from the team.

No options
Injuries are an unavoidable part of the modern game. If Paes is injured before a tie, like he was when India faced South Africa in September 2009, why should the country not be able to bank on the experience of the now banned two?

The national tennis federation does not have a single sensible programme for grooming the next generation of players. It has consistently failed to raise sponsorship to support our best juniors during the onerous transitional phase to the incredibly competitive senior tour.

Yet, it chooses to deny those who have made it on their own the right of playing for their country.

Sorry state
The headline on top of this page should have been about India's five-zero whitewash of New Zealand. Instead, it's about the murkier underbelly of Indian tennis. Blame that on the association's terrible sense of timing.

By announcing a ban on India's two most accomplished players of recent times in the middle of the tie, it ensured that instead of analysis of its spanking new-look team, you again get to read about the rot within. Making a hash of things is an old habit with these people. And old habits certainly die hard.