IOA Prunes Asian Games Sambo Squad Over Nepotism Allegations
The Indian Olympic Association has dropped five athletes from its Asian Games sambo squad and kept only one from the selected list after finding out that there was some ambiguity in the selection process.
According to The Indian Express, the sambo squad cleared to compete at the Asian Games included an athlete who is the daughter-in-law of the federation’s secretary Ram Sharma and another who has not competed at the national level for the previous three years.
Many were surprised with IOA’s announcement that India will compete in sambo and 35 other sports at the Asian Games. Later, however, the officials who cleared the sport expressed doubts over some of the names in the sambo squad list. As a result, only one sambo athlete, out of the six in the list, was cleared to be part of the squad – Shrikant.
Lalit Narain, who was the face of India’s Asian Games sambo squad, was dropped because of his age. The 39-year-old won his first international medal in a junior competition in 1994. He won his last medal at the Asian Championship, a bronze, in 2013. The Federation said that Narain came fifth in last year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, but the IOA didn’t budge.
Rishal Sharma was included in the initial list given to the IOA by the Sambo Federation of India, even though she didn’t take part in the trials last month.
Even Sarojit Kaur, who didn’t take part in the previous three National Championships, was named in the Asian Games squad.
The IOA had on 3 July announced a 524-member contingent, but after a long meeting on Saturday, as many as six athletes were rejected on various grounds.
They made several changes to the country's contingent of athletes for the upcoming Asian Games, dropping the entire triathlon team for furnishing "misleading information".
The IOA has had to follow strict guidelines laid down by the sports ministry for selecting each of the teams for the Asian Games. Only the teams that are ranked in the top eight among Asian sides and individual athletes, who have matched the result of an athlete who finished sixth in a particular discipline in the previous Asian Games, can take part in this year’s tournament.
According to The Indian Express, an IOA official will meet the sports ministry this week and ask for relaxation in the guidelines.