The Badminton Association of India (BAI) is forming a panel to investigate the recent age-fraud complaints. It will impose a ban of a minimum of two years on the guilty.
Multiple cases of age-fudging emerged during the All India Sub-Junior under-13 ranking tournament that was scheduled from 19th June to 25th June in Hyderabad. The ongoing U-13 event in Mohali, prompted Sandeep Heble, a member of the Age Fraud Committee, to shoot off a letter to BAI, urging it to look into the matter.
"It is not an easy decision. We have to be 100 percent certain before we take any action. We already have an age fraud committee, but now we will form a team, including the state secretaries so that a proper investigation can be done to gather evidence," BAI secretary Sanjay Mishra said.
"Once we have concrete evidence, we will make a detailed list of the guilty players and ban them for 2 to 3 years from all domestic events, including district, state, national ranking."
Aggrieved parents have also approached the organizing secretary Tejinder Bedi in Mohali, protesting against the participation of over-age players in the tournament and demanding immediate action.
"I understand the grievance of the parents but immediate action can't be taken. Freezing ranking points of the tournaments won't help and Bedi doesn't have the power to do that. Ranking point stays as we don't want the genuine players to suffer," Mishra said.
"We have time for around two months after this event. I have asked the chief referee to make a list of all players of questionable age. After investigation, if we find that lot of players were over-aged, then we will conduct 2 to 3 additional ranking tournaments so that the genuine kids can get a chance to gather ranking points," he added.
Can a life ban or a longer ban on the guilty be on the cards?
"See age fudging is a complicated issue and unfortunately, we can just minimize it but we can't completely eradicate it because no age-verification test or doctor can say with 100 percent accuracy, the exact age of the players," Mishra said.
"So we can't ban a kid for all age groups, because the kid doesn't even know what is happening. In most cases, it is the parents and coaches who are guilty. So we can't hand such a huge punishment to a kid. If you ban him for five years, that will ruin his career."
Age fudging has been an issue for many years now. In most cases, unscrupulous parents and coaches are complicit in producing fabricated documents like falsification of birth certificates, school certificates, passports, or even Aadhaar cards to get undue advantage in age category events.
"BAI had deactivated around 6,300 IDs in 2018 as there were cases of late registration," Mishra added.
"It will take the involvement of all in the system whether it is the state level or district level to address this issue. All have to will have to get involved to properly investigate it to curb it," he further added.
(Inputs from PTI)