'They are just making me the scapegoat after what happened in Tokyo. They can't just pass the buck to me for Manu Bhaker's failure. What were the coaches doing in Tokyo? I was not there with them at the Olympics.'
Indian shooting could soon reach a point of no return if there is no fairness in selection of coaches and athletes, no accountability and no discipline, reckons Jaspal Rana.
Dronacharya awardee coach Rana has also revealed that "nobody" wanted him to be a part of the Indian shooting coaching set-up except the national federation (NRAI) president Raninder Singh.
Amid the bitter mudslinging in the wake of the Indian shooters' disastrous outing at the Tokyo Olympics, the 1994 Asian Games gold medallist said it's high time the problems facing the sport in the country are fixed.
"We need absolute fairness in selection of both coaches and shooters, fixing of accountability and there cannot be a place for non-performers in the team," Rana told PTI during a chat.
But the 45-year-old former shooter was quick to add that the bunch that failed to deliver in Tokyo comprised mostly youngsters, who will gain in experience and mature by the time the next Olympics come calling.
"We don't need to train them; they already know their game. We need to protect them, which was not there. That's what I think. But then, nobody wanted me in the federation except the president," Rana added.
Indian shooters failed to fire at the Olympics for the second straight time and Rana said it is not fair on the part of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Singh to blame him for the debacle.
Reacting to the failures of top medal prospects such as Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary at the Olympics, Raninder had said there was "just one negative factor in the whole thing (wrangling within the team)."
"I am referring to Jaspal Rana," the NRAI chief had said referring to the internal dispute among coaches in the pistol squad prior to leaving for the long training-cum-competition tour of Croatia.
Rana said the problem started after pistol shooter Chinki Yadav secured India a quota place during the Asian Championship in Doha in 2019.
While Rana was vocal about not being in favour of Manu competing in three events at the Olympics -- 10 metre air pistol, mixed team event and 25 metre pistol -- as he felt it was "too much for a young athlete to handle", Manu felt otherwise.
"They are just making me the scapegoat after what happened in Tokyo. They can't just pass the buck to me for Manu Bhaker's failure. What were the coaches doing in Tokyo? I was not there with them at the Olympics," Rana said.
"There was no accountability, so many coaches were there. You just need one head chief. I don't do personal coaching, Raninder knows everything, people took advantage of the situation.
Regarding Manu's failure at the Games, he said, "I am not blaming that child, she is a kid."
The final breaking point between the two came during the New Delhi World Cup in March when the shooter felt "ignored" by Rana and requested the NRAI to change her coach.
On his part, Rana said he was always ready to coach her or any other shooter, provided they listened to his advice.
Despite the bitter fallout and mudslinging over the last few weeks, Rana said he is "always ready to help the shooters out and serve in the best interest of the country."