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Off-field drama dims India's Asiad glory

Tennis ace Bhupati needs to prove form & shooter Rathore is asked to apologise, report S Kannan and Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 11:27 IST

For India, the shine of Pankaj Advani's gold and Ashok Shandilya's silver in billiards at the Doha Asian Games on Tuesday was taken away by off-the-field drama. The fallout: tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi has been asked to prove his fitness and form, and shooter RVS Rathore has been asked to apologise to the organisers.

The tennis story first. After Bhupathi and Leander Paes lost 2-6, 3-6 to the Chinese Taipei pair of Wang Yeu Tzauoo and Lu Yen Hsun on Monday, all kinds of irresponsible statements started doing the rounds. Paes told a TV channel, "I just feel that Hesh (Bhupathi) should be honest with himself, his injuries and his tennis. I have tremendous respect for him...But at the moment he needs to be honest with himself, the way he is playing, the way his career's going and also with his responsibility to the team."

Asked to react to the charge that he was "unfit", Bhupathi said, "I would be the last person to carry an injury just to play another match at this stage of my career." Now, Bhupathi has been asked to play a trial doubles match, possibly against Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse.

Rathore, on the other hand, has managed to anger the organisers. The Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) has asked the Indian Olympic Association for an immediate and unconditional apology from the shooter for his unwarranted comments and allegations earlier this week.

Rathore had reportedly said he was denied access to the ranges, and the volunteers there had misbehaved with him. The DAGOC has, however, remained silent about Rathore's outburst on Tuesday -- after he won his individual bronze. He said they had slowed down the speed of the clay birds.

Implicit in the DAGOC's press release is a veiled threat that if Rathore does not apologise, he may face trouble.

First Published: Dec 06, 2006 02:42 IST