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AIBA suspends boxer Sarita, her coaches for refusing bronze at Asiad

Last updated on: October 22, 2014 15:37 IST
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Sarita Devi

India's bronze medallist Laishram Sarita Devi reacts during the medal ceremony of the women's lightweight (57-60kg) boxing at the Asian Games in Incheon. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

The International Boxing Association has provisionally suspended Indian woman boxer Laishram Sarita Devi for refusing to accept the bronze medal at the Asian Games' podium ceremony.

The AIBA also suspended her coaches (Messrs Gurbakhsh Singh Sandhu, Blas Iglesias Fernandez and Sagar Mal Dhayal) as well as the Indian chef-de-mission at the Incheon Asian Games (Adille J. Sumariwalla), who were all present at the Games in Korea, and barred them from participating at all levels of AIBA competition, events and meetings till further notice.

The AIBA's Disciplinary Commission has sent the case for review, which means that Sarita Devi, the above-mentioned coaches and Sumariwalla will not be allowed to participate in the AIBA women's World Boxing Championships in Jeju Islands (Korea), 2014, the statement added.

Reacting to her suspension, Sarita said she is unaware of the development and will only act after she gets a formal word from the AIBA.

"I have not received any communication from AIBA as of now. When I will see the letter, I will decide what I have to do," Sarita said.

Coach Sandhu, however, was optimistic about the situation and said the matter will be resolved soon.

"We have got the notice from AIBA and we have to reply to it in seven days' time. We are preparing our reply and, hopefully, the matter will be resolved," said Sandhu.

India's L. Sarita Devi cries

India's L. Sarita Devi, helped by the other bronze medalist, Vietnam's Thi Duyen Luu, cries looking at a medals as she steps on the podium during the medal ceremony of the women’s lightweight (60kg) boxing at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon. Photograph: PTI

Sarita had offered an 'unconditional apology' to the AIBA during the Games.

In a statement, AIBA had said that the boxer regretted her actions.

'The Head of the Indian Mission at the Incheon Asian Games 2014 Mr Adille J Sumariwalla has forwarded to the President of the International Boxing Association, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, a letter of apology of Woman boxer Sarita Laishram Devi (57-60kg) who had refused to receive the bronze medal at the Award Ceremony for the 17th Asian Games,' read the AIBA statement.

'Mrs Devi expressed 'an unconditional apology' for her 'emotional outburst' at the ceremony yesterday, writing that 'I regret and apologise. Such an incident will never reoccur in the future'," the statement added.

Sarita Devi

India's Sarita Devi (right) at the podium after refusing to accept the bronze medal. Photograph: PTI

The Olympic Council of Asia, though, said it was not impressed by Sarita's behaviour at the medal ceremony but decided to let her off with a warning after she issued an unconditional apology and the Indian delegation assured the OCA it had not planned the incident.

Sarita was furious after losing her lightweight semi-final bout to South Korea's Park Ji-na, believing she should have been declared the winner.

Her husband launched an expletive-laden tirade at the judges and Sarita lodged a protest against the decision but it was rejected, triggering cries of foul play from the Indian team.

The following day, she refused to wear the bronze medal when it was presented to her, taking it only in her hand before trying to drape it over Park.

When the presentation was over, she left the medal behind despite being told by the organisers to take it with her.

Sarita was just one of a number of beaten boxers who questioned the judging at the Asian Games.

'I apologised because I did not want any other Indian boxer to suffer. I fight for my country and by apologising I have tried to ensure that no other Indian gets affected. I feel I was wronged,' she said.

'We suffered a lot due to the federation's termination earlier; I didn't want anything new to affect our boxers.'

Recalling her emotional moments on the podium, Sarita later said she was not in control.

'I could not control myself on the podium. I offered her (Park) the medal because that's what she deserved. I deserved better. She came to me to return the bronze but I could not take it, I was too overwhelmed. She requested me to take it back,' Sarita had said.

'I am not angry with her. She was just fighting like me. The wrong was done by others. It was not her fault,' she added.

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