New Delhi, July 26: The charge by India's top doubles players K.T. Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas that they, like fellow players Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta, have been shortchanged at the auction was denied by the organisers of the Indian Badminton League (IBL).
Rupesh and Thomas even hinted that they might pull out of the league, alleging that their base price has been slashed without their knowledge, but organisers Sporty Solutionz chief executive Ashish Chadha contested their claim that they should have got a higher base price considering their international record.
Jwala and Ashwini's base prices were also reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 at the auction Monday.
Chadha told IANS that Rupesh and Thomas no doubt have an impressive international record but that was in the past. Today there are any number of youngsters who have better rankings than the two.
"I am getting calls everyday from several players who are unhappy with their base price. Rupesh and Sanave are ranked 17th and 18th in India and have not played regular badminton for the last two years. I agree that they have achieved a lot in the past but currently there are several other junior players who are ranked way above them," said Chadha.
"In the directives given to them we were absolutely clear that the base prices would be based on the rankings. I think these reactions are absolutely unnecessary. I agree Jwala (Gutta) and Ashwini (Ponnappa) have a valid reason for their disappointment but this is uncalled for."
Earlier Thursday, Rupesh and Thomas complained that like Jwala and Ashwini, their base price was also slashed without their knowledge and they are so upset that they are wondering whether they should play in the IBL after the way they have been treated.
In the player's information kit and the form which the duo signed, a base price of $15,000 was put. However, at the auction, the two were sold to Pune Pistons for a base price of $5,000 each here Monday.
"The agreement form we signed way back in May had mentioned $15,000 as my base price. Now I find I have been sold to Pune for a base price of $5,000. We were not informed about the change in our base price," Thomas told IANS from Kochi Thursday.
A clause in the player's agreement form regarding the base price for Indians says: "Indian senior internationals (World Championship, Thomas Cup, Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, CWG, Asian Games) get equivalent to $15,000."
"We have been representing India for the last 10 years and have played at all major events. After representing the country and winning medals, if this is how we are treated, then I do not know what to say. If we had qualified for the higher category, we should have been auctioned at that price," said Thomas.
Thomas's partner Rupesh also echoed similar views, saying he feels cheated.
"On May 30, we sent the consent form where we indicated that we qualify for the $15,000 bracket going by the prospectus in the information kit. Now, suddenly after the auction I get to know that I was sold for $5,000. I feel cheated as we were not taken into confidence," Rupesh told IANS.
"There has been no communication from them and we got to know after it came out in the news. Now we don't feel like playing. If the organisers do not review our case, I am afraid we may have to think of pulling out," he added.
Rupesh, who with Thomas won the national championships for a record seven years from 2004 to 2010, also said he was in full agreement with icon players Jwala and Ashwini whose base prices were also reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 Monday.
"This is just senseless. It is ridiculous to treat our icon players with such scant respect. You can't be changing after committing, and it hurts the players' pride."