"Recover money spent on over-aged athletes"

New Delhi, Sep 13 (PTI): A livid Sports Ministry on Thursday asked SAI to recover the money spent on the athletes' airfare from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the embarrassment caused to the country after 17 over-aged sportspersons were barred from the Nanjing Asian Youth Games.

The Ministry acted swiftly on the report submitted by the Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson, who has squarely blamed the AFI for the shocking incident.

"We have told SAI that the amount must be recovered from the AFI. If they fail to return us the amount, we will not grant them any further advances in future," Sports Secretary P K Deb told PTI.

The government had spent around Rs 10 lakh for the airfare of the disqualified athletes, who returned home from China after being declared disqualified to take part in the competition.

Asked whether any action has been proposed by SAI against the AFI, Deb replied in negative.

"We have not decided to take any action against the AFI or ban any athlete," he informed.

Thomson had submitted the report to the Sports Secretary on September 9 after he was asked by the ministry to enquire into the issue of 17 track and field athletes being disqualified from the second Youth Asian Games due to overage.

"The incident came as a huge embarrassment to the country. We will recover the cost from the AFI," said Thomson.

Only athletes born between January 1997 and December 1998 were eligible to take part in the track and field events in the August 16-24 Youth Asian Games but the AFI included 17 athletes who were born in 1996 in the team.

Indians participated in the multi-sporting event as Independent Olympic athletes because the Indian Olympic Association is serving a ban imposed by the International Olympic Committee.

The AFI had claimed that it had followed International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules according to which 1996-born players were eligible. But they forgot that the Games were being held as per the IOC rules.

The SAI maintained that it was entirely the job of the federation to check the eligibility of the athletes while picking the team and SAI's job was to arrange for athletes' travel.


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