AITA promises to crack whip at age fraud suspects ahead of Nationals

Amanpreet Singh
·4-min read

New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) Taking note of the parents' demand and as promised by the previous dispensation, the national tennis federation (AITA) is gearing up to crack the whip on age fraud suspects ahead of the upcoming 2020 National Championships.

To tackle the menace that has been plaguing Indian tennis for long, previous AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee had told PTI in an interview that all main draw players competing in the age group nationals will be subjected to age verification test (TW3).

The All India Tennis Association (AITA), though on Thursday, said that it will be not be possible to put into scrutiny each and every participant to TW3 test for the upcoming Nationals due to time constraint but if the federation is given names of the suspects of age manipulation, they will enquire and remove the guilty players from the championships.

The 2020 Nationals could not be held due to coronavirus pandemic, so MSLTA, MPTA and HLTA are hosting the event next month.

Pune will host the Under-12 (March 8-14), Under-14 (March 14-22), and Under-16 (April 5-11) hard court Nationals for 2020, while Indore will organise the Under-18 event from March 29 and a group of parents have shot off a letter to AITA, reminding it about the promise.

The men's and women's event will be held in Gurugram from March 15.

'We were in hope that all children who have misrepresented their age will be filtered out from the main draw of upcoming Under 12 & 14 Nationals. But unfortunately, the fact sheet of upcoming Nationals is silent about it,' the letter, sent on February 17 to AITA, read. 'We, therefore, request your urgent intervention to take some serious steps to weed out such frauds and provide a fair chance to the genuine players. As such, we request your good self to take stringent steps,' it added.

AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar told PTI from Indore that the federation is committed to clean the mess.

'We are hosting 2020 championships and not much time is left for testing every kid since there are no designated centres. But we will not support overage players,' said Dhupar.

'My office is reaching out to parents who feel that there could be few over-aged players in certain categories. If we are given names, we will initiate enquiry and guilty players will not be allowed to compete at next month's Nationals and will be removed within seven days.' 'We had a committee on age fraud in the past and it had done a good job by banning a few players. We will continue,' he added.

Dhupar said AITA will have its Executive Committee meeting on February 28 and the issue will be discussed there at length.

'We need to have designated centres in every state where the players will be asked to go for TW3 tests in future. We will discuss at our EC meeting and take a call,' he said. The National Sports Code (2011) has also made provisions to tackle the issue and approved the guidelines, circulated via a letter by the then joint secretary Injeti Srinivas on November 25, 2009.

The guidelines stipulated that the federation should resort to medical examination of an athlete whenever doubt arises with regard to the age of a sportsperson on account of his or her physical appearance, receipt of any complaint or any other valid ground, which should be duly communicated to him or her.

It further stated that the federation should ensure that the medical tests include physical examination, dental examination and radiological examination at a credible hospital, preferably a government facility.

If an athlete contest the findings of the medical test in question, it would be incumbent upon the federation to arrange for a re-examination, preferably at a reputed government hospital.

In the event of a conclusive proof that an athlete has committed an age fraud, he or she should be banned from participating in any sporting event for a period of two years on the first detection and for five years on any subsequent detection.

The guidelines also stipulated that the federation should conduct random verifications at regular intervals.

The code is though silent on what should be done if the findings are challenged in the court and if they are set aside by the judiciary. PTI AT AT SSC SSC