The Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Friday said that the Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested three persons, including a former kabaddi player, for fleecing grassroot-level athletes through a false advertisement for next year's Khelo India Games.
The action was taken two days after SAI lodged an FIR, alleging that several athletes across the country were duped through the false advertisement, which sought money to compete in the Khelo India Games.
The Khelo India Games are scheduled to be held in Panchkula next year.
"The Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested three persons on Friday involved in circulating a false advertisement on social media platforms inviting applications from athletes to participate in the Khelo India Games scheduled in Panchkula in Haryana in 2021, and asking athletes to pay Rs 6000 each to participate in the Games," the SAI said in a statement.
"The three persons arrested are Sanjay Pratap Singh, Anuj Kumar and Ravi. Sanjay has been an ex-kabaddi player from Agra and he had created a fake ID by the name of Rudra Pratap Singh to interact with athletes interested in participating in the Khelo India Games.
"Anuj and Ravi, meanwhile, provided their account numbers of Canara Bank and State Bank branches in UP, where athletes were asked to deposit the money," it added.
SAI said that the accounts have now been frozen by both the banks and investigation is underway to identify the total number of athletes who had deposited money in them.
The body had alleged that advertisement also used "logos of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Sports Authority of India and Khelo India, which misled several athletes to believe it to be a government advertisement."
Khelo India Games, government's flagship grassroots talent hunt programme, will return for its fourth edition next year.
SAI made it clear that "Khelo India is a government scheme and athletes do not need to pay any money to participate in it."
"No trials are conducted by SAI/Khelo India. Athletes qualify for participating in Khelo India Games based on their performances in School Games/University Games organised by SGFI/AIU," it had said.