CHENNAI: Boxer Sarita Devi was slapped with a one-year suspension by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for her controversial protest during the Asian Games in Incheon this year.
The Manipuri pugilist, who had refused to accept the bronze medal after her controversial semifinal loss, has been banned retrospectively from October 1, 2014 to October 1, 2015 and also fined 1000 Swiss francs. The decision means that the lightweight boxer’s chances of participating in the Rio Olympics won’t be affected.
The world body has also handed two-year bans (until October 1, 2016) to Sarita’s husband Thoiba Singh and coach BI Fernandez and barred her coach Lenin Meitei for a year, ending October 1, 2015.
With speculations of a possible life ban, Sarita, who is currently nursing a broken wrist, is relieved. She promised to work even harder and look to win a medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics. “I am hugely relieved and would like to thank the boxing fraternity and Boxing India (BI) for helping me sail through the difficult times. I’ll now be able to participate in the Olympics and work harder to bring laurels for the country,” she said in a statement
BI secretary general Jay Kowli too was relieved and said BI is thankful to the AIBA for being considerate to Sarita. “We are relieved to have averted the life ban. She will get a shot at the Rio Olympics. It looks like the AIBA has also considered her contribution to the sport in the last 14 years. They have looked at it very sympathetically because of her good record all these years. I thank AIBA for their considerate stand for Sarita,” Kowli stated.
Kowli, a former AIBA referee, relinquished his post to help improve boxing in the country and joined BI. The three-star judge, who last officiated in the London Olympics, revealed that he shares a special bond with the boxers and was keen on Sarita’s case. “I have worked closely with Sarita and also Mary Kom in their first national championship in 2001, which was held in Chennai. When she won gold in 2006 World Championship in Delhi, I was the referee. When the life ban news came in, I was equally stressed. Having done so much for the sport, I never wanted her career to end like this,” Kowli added.