Gymnasts sweat over administrative imbroglio

The administrative power struggle in gymnastics continues to cast doubts on the selection of Indian team for the Asian Games with all prominent gymnasts in the country attending training camp in Delhi while the federation has already announced an open selection trials in Pune in the third week of June.

While the sports ministry and SAI are clear that the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) has no locus standi to conduct any selections, the fact that the faction led by the elected president Sudhakar Shetty is recognised by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) makes the entire issue tricky.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The administrative power struggle in gymnastics continues to cast doubts on the selection of Indian team for the Asian Games with all prominent gymnasts in the country attending training camp in Delhi while the federation has already announced an open selection trials in Pune in the third week of June.

While the sports ministry and SAI are clear that the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) has no locus standi to conduct any selections, the fact that the faction led by the elected president Sudhakar Shetty is recognised by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) makes the entire issue tricky.

The camp in Delhi, ongoing since May 22, is to continue till June 24, the date of the proposed trials by the GFI at the Balewadi Complex. “The campers were selected by the SAI ad-hoc panel that includes chief coach G.S. Bawa, on the basis of their rankings and recent performances. It includes the top-15 men and women gymnasts of the country,” a senior SAI official confirmed on Monday.

Sports secretary Rahul Bhatnagar confirmed that with the GFI being de-recognised, only the IOA and SAI had the authority to organise camps and trials. “As for the FIG recognition, that is something we need to sit with IOA and sort out. But as far as the ministry is concerned, the federation cannot hold any trials or send the team for Asian Games,” he confirmed.

The GFI, on the other hand, is categorical that it retains the right to conduct trials. “We will be giving a letter to both the IOA and the SAI to permit the gymnasts training in Delhi to participate in the trials. As it is, we have no idea who is in the camp or how they were selected, they neither consulted us nor gave us any list of campers,” GFI spokesperson Makrand Joshi said.

Asked what if SAI refused permission, Joshi said GFI would think it over and try to sort it out. “We don’t know what their problem is. We had a meeting with the Disputes Committee of the IOA before its AGM in 2016 and even got clearance with Sudhakar Shetty as president and Ranjeet Vasava as secretary. Only the AGM has to clear Vasava’s name in place of Shanti Kumar who was originally elected but they are not doing it,” Joshi alleged.

The IOA had formed an ad-hoc committee for the CWG earlier this year, only to be directed by the international federation to not interfere in selections. Not surprisingly, a senior IOA official refused to be drawn in. “We want no repeat of the CWG mess. We have asked the ministry to give us in writing that the GFI stands de-recognised before we can open any communication with the FIG,” he declared.

The GFI is to meet senior IOA officials here on June 7 to find a way out of the mess but there is little hope. “I won’t be surprised if the CWG drama is repeated or even the team is not sent. But that would make all parties look bad. Let’s see what happens on the 7th,” the IOA official said. The gymnasts, meanwhile, continue to sweat it out.

Sports secretary Rahul Bhatnagar confirms that with the GFI being de-recognised, only the IOA and SAI have the authority to organise camps and trials