After Mahesh Bhupathi lashed out against the All India Tennis Association’s decision to not select Rohan Bopanna or him to represent the country for the next two years at least, the body cleared their stand on Tuesday.
“They are respected players, having represented India for a long time. But when they refused to play according to the selection by our committee, some action was required for this indiscipline,” explained AITA executive committee member Hironmoy Chatterjee.
“We didn’t want to use the words ban or suspend so we clearly stated that we’ve ‘decided not to consider them for selection till June 2014.’ We wanted to keep the decision to our limits. Players are responsible to play if they have been selected. One can’t be both a selector and a player.”
Why the long wait for the decision when the Olympics had ended almost a month back? “It’s better to be patient. Our selection had been perfect.
We felt that India’s best medal combination would have been Bhupathi and Leander Paes. We waited for Bhupathi and Bopanna to play. And their results are there for all to see,” Chatterjee said.
The fact that the AITA have tried to use the second-round loss at the London Olympics as an excuse to flex their muscle though puts them on shaky ground.
During his press conference in Mumbai also, when categorically asked if the players would have been disciplined if they had come back with a better results, Bhupathi retorted with a plain, “No.”
Chatterjee, who is also the Bengal Tennis Association secretary, added that the committee came to this decision after lengthy discussions. “The fact that Anil Khanna is portrayed as a dictator is incorrect. We all had our say and then came to a decision.”
What about Bhupathi’s threat of taking legal action? Is the AITA ready for a fight?
“Of course, AITA is ready. Courts are open to all,” he said.
Chatterjee also stated that the punishment meted out to the duo was by the books.
“There very much is a Code of Conduct,” he said. “But we are in the process of formulating a new Code of Conduct because we want to make it watertight. The period could very well have been till December this year. But the ethics committee suggested the period and we agreed to it after finding it satisfactory.”