The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has flayed the organisers of the ongoing Asian Shooting Championships in Changwon, Korea for disqualifying air rifle shooter Dhanush Srikanth without adopting “correct procedure” and also lodged a protest with them.
Dhanush, a hearing-impaired marksman, was picked up for random apparel check by the range officials after the 10m air rifle qualification round and was disqualified as his trouser did not meet the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) norm for stiffness.
Had Dhanush not been disqualified, India would have won the team gold with a junior Asian record and the shooter from Hyderabad could have also won an individual medal as he was placed third going into the finals.
“They organisers did not even declare that Dhanush was being disqualified. He was not even shown the red card. A protest has been lodged with the organisers. We have also met the Asian Shooting Confederation (ASC) president and informed him about the same,” NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia told PTI.
In shooting events, such as 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3-positions events, it is mandatory to wear stiff jackets and trousers, as precision can only be achieved if the body movement is minimum. This can be achieved by wearing apparel made of stiff cloth, which gives stability to the body while shooting.
An electronic gauge is used by the equipment control section at the competition venue to measure the stiffness of the apparel in order to negate the possibility of unfair advantage to any shooter during competition.
Dhanush, the Deaflympics champion in 2022 who has undergone two cochlear transplants, was disqualified as the stiffness of his trouser was 2.9, while it should not be less than 3.0.
Bhatia alleged that what happened to Indian athletes in China during the Hangzhou Asian Games, something similar had happened to Dhanush during the Asian Championships.
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s first throw at the Asian Games was not recorded by the officials, and the digital board also kept showing he had yet to take his first attempt, which led to several conspiracy theories.
“What happened in China... has anyone been able to do anything in athletics? They have done the same thing in Korea (with Dhanush). Yes, it’s possible that partiality can happen. The next in line (to qualify for the finals) was a Korean marksman. So, who was the beneficiary (if Dhanush was disqualified)? It can happen,” alleged Bhatia.
Korean shooter Kim Wanhee, who was ninth before Dhanush was disqualified, was upgraded to eighth spot and made it to the finals.
“Coaches Veerpal Kaur, Priti Sharma and Deepak Dubey were present all the time with the shooter. The coaches also lodged a protest with the tournament director but it was denied,” added Bhatia.
He added that the jury at the range had not done an impartial work as per the International Olympic Committee charter of fair play.
“The judges are required to officiate impartially and the IOC charter also desires so. Juries were required to test, as per rules, at five specific points on the trouser but they checked only at two points and the trouser was rejected by a 0.1 margin. The correct procedure was not adopted by the juries,” he added.
The coaches accompanying the contingent, in their protest letter to the Jury of Appeal, a copy of which is with PTI, wrote, “As per the ISSF rules, athletes selected for post-competition checks and EQC (Equipment Control), the team did not follow the procedure correctly as prescribed by the ISSF norms.
“The shooter (Dhanush) was also not shown the red card at the spot and also procedure was carried out in an open space,” said the letter.
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