Sports Ministry: We have to provide funds only to the needy

According to sources in the Ministry, the aim behind such a move is to support the training and coaching process of promising athletes.

Golfer SSP Chawrasia had claimed that he had not been paid for the expenses borne by him when preparing for the Rio Olympics.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

The Union Sports Ministry is likely to rethink its policy of financially supporting sportspersons who have turned professional.

According to sources in the Ministry, the aim behind such a move is to support the training and coaching process of promising athletes.

“We have to provide funds only to the needy,” a ministry official said, expressing unhappiness over the public statements by golfer SSP Chawrasia who claimed he had not been paid for the expenses borne by him when preparing for the Rio Olympics.

“There is an established process for athletes to secure the release of the funds from TOP Scheme,” said the official. “To begin with, they were told what their standard budget allocation was. Then, they would have to submit a proposal to be able to obtain funds against that allocation. As much as 90 per cent of the funds was given as advance to each athlete against their proposals.”

On the face of it, reiterated the official, it was “funny” for anyone to make such allegations. “We funded even those athletes who qualified closer to the Olympic Games. We didn’t deny anyone who had qualified. In fact, the Ministry had been liberal in releasing the funds and we made no discrimination between a celebrity or a beginner when allocating standard budgets,” he said.

Clearly, some sportspersons, Chawrasia included, appeared to believe that they would be eligible to secure the entire standard budget allocation. The Ministry official asserted that Chawrasia should have addressed his issues at the appropriate forum. “If he had a grievance he should have ventilated at the appropriate forum, not in public.”

On the possibility of the Sports Ministry looking to support only non-professional sportsmen to prepare for big sporting events like the Olympics, Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games, the official maintained, “It would be a policy matter but the Ministry needs to take a call. We must realise that public funding should be reserved only for the needy.”

He also revealed that some athletes who had drawn from TOPS funds are yet to submit bills and claim the remainder 10 per cent of their sanctioned amounts.