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Boxer Sarita Devi faces long ban over medal protest

Sarita Devi, the Indian boxer who refused to accept her Asian Games bronze medal to protest against refereeing, can expect a heavy punishment, the sport's governing body AIBA said on Wednesday.

other Updated: Nov 12, 2014 17:23 IST
Sarita Devi

The Indian boxer who refused to accept her Asian Games bronze medal in a protest over the judging can expect a heavy punishment, the head of the sport's governing body AIBA said on Wednesday.

L Sarita Devi lost in the semifinals of the women's lightweight competition at Incheon, South Korea, in September, and tried to give her medal to her opponent at the presentation ceremony as a protest.

Devi and three coaches received indefinite bans taking in the current women's world championships in South Korea pending a final ruling of a disciplinary commission.

India's Sarita Devi gestures towards silver medallist South Korea's Park Jina as the latter tries to persuade Devi to accept her bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the women’s light 60kg division boxing at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. (AP Photo)

AIBA president CK Wu told The Associated Press that the commission will make its ruling "very soon" and forecast a strong penalty.

"She will be heavily punished, there will be zero tolerance," Wu said in a telephone interview from Jeju, South Korea, ahead of the AIBA congress. "If you accept being the winner, you have to accept being the loser. If everyone behaved like that, what type of competition will we have?"

Devi, upset about the decision in the 60-kilogram bout, refusing to bend down to let the medal be placed over her neck. She then took the medal and slipped it onto the neck of Park Ji-na, who had been declared the winner of their semifinal bout.

The South Korean boxer, an eventual silver medalist, tried to give the bronze medal back to Devi, then left it on the podium.

Sandeep Jajodia, president of Boxing India, last month urged AIBA to revoke Devi's provisional suspension, saying "It was purely an emotional reaction and not pre-planned."

"We don't deny that it was disrespectful toward the code of conduct for athletes but she tendered an unconditional apology," Jajodia said at the time.

But Wu said there can be little forgiveness.

"I said to them, that (apology) doesn't matter, you need to think before you act," Wu told the AP.

"She probably will be banned for some time because we want to consider the case that all the referees and judges' decisions need to be respected."

Wu said the controversies over scoring at the Asian Games and allegations of impropriety were possibly caused by a misunderstanding of the new scoring system and heightened measures to prevent influencing of judges.

The new scoring method is a 10-points system like that used in professional boxing, rather than the previous method of counting scoring blows. Judges are now randomly selected from a pool of officials just prior to each bout. And while there are five judges for each bout, only three of the scorecards are randomly chosen by computer to contribute to the result.

"This prevents any possible manipulation because you don't know who are (going to be) the judges," Wu said.

First Published: Nov 12, 2014 12:34 IST