India's top tennis players, who had threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Games because of non-payment of dues, on Saturday pledged to represent the country in the mega event after being given a categorical assurance that the vexed issues would be resolved soon.
On a day of swift developments, the revolting quartet of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna made themselves available to play for the country while the Sports Ministry and the AITA also promised to resolve the dispute as early as possible.
With all the parties showing some urgency in dealing with the issue, the row seemed headed for a settlement paving the way for the star players in the Davis Cup tie against Brazil and next month and October 3-14 Commonwealth Games.
The players however lashed out at the All India Tennis Association for leaking their private correspondence to the media and delaying the submission of the bills for clearance.
"We would like to put all speculation to rest and confirm we will be present in full strength to represent India against Brazil in Chennai in September. We will continue to be committed to play for our country (in CWG)," the players said in a joint statement.
"It is true that we wrote a letter to the AITA to voice some concerns we had about expenses that we were promised over the last year and a half.
"We have all submitted bills to various people at the AITA over this period and now that the AITA has nominated us to represent India we requested them to make sure that the promises made are kept," the statement said.
The players said they have been assured by the Sports Ministry Joint Secretary (International sports division) Rahul Bhatnagar that all the dues will be settled soon.
"As for the CWG, Rahul Bhatnagar has confirmed to us personally there will be no issues on payments once the AITA releases all the bills we have submitted over time and more.
"The issue was meant to be a private matter between the players and the Federation and it deeply disturbs us that all our communication to the AITA was sent out to the media from the AITA office.
"We had no intention to create a media frenzy, just wanted to make sure we get what is due to us. We are hopeful that our genuine concerns will be addressed by our federation transparently without any delay," theysaid.
Keento settle the issue, the Sports Ministry said it was willing to clear the dues even on receiving the minimum documentation from AITA.
Bhatnagarsaid they will not demand original bills if AITA certified the players' expenditures.
"Wewant to give money to these elite players but how can we give them if we do not have documents which show that they have spent money," Bhatnagar said.
"Allwe want is a certificate from AITA, signed by their charted accountant that players have spent money. We will not ask for original bills but there has to be some proof that the money has been spent," he said.
Bhatnagarsaid there was no delay on Sports Ministry's part and it was AITA which has failed to produce the necessary documentation on time.
"Wedo not deal directly with the players. We get the bills from federations and pay to them. We have been telling AITA for the last two months that ministry has not received any bills from these elite players but AITA did not provide us anything," Bhatnagar, who is also chairman of the steering committee looking after the CWG preparations, said.
Hesaid the ministry will release funds for only those tournaments which were not sponsored.
"Wewant to avoid double payment. Payment will be counted for only events where players have spent on their own and not by organisers or sponsors. AITA will have to issue certificate that such and such event was not sponsored," he said.
Bhatnagarwill meet AITA secretary general Anil Khanna and AITA officials on Monday to sort out the issue.
Itis learnt that the AITA has managed to get details of two players so far and by tomorrow the officials are expected to gather information from the other three players to submit it on Monday.
Khannawelcomed the players' statement.
"Iam very pleased to hear about the statement of the players that they are going to play in the Commonwealth Games. I was always 100 % sure that our players, who have stood selflessly by the nation for the last two decades, will continue to serve the nation.
"Asregards their grievances, they are being addressed. Mr Jaideep Mukherjea, chairman CWG Preparation Programme, and I will meet joint secretary Mr Rahul Bhatnagar on Monday to sort out the pending issues of the players with the Ministry of Sports," Khanna said in a statement.