CHENNAI: Controversy is brewing in Indian table tennis. The tussle between Manika Batra and the Table Tennis Federation of India has taken a dramatic turn. Days after she, along with her mixed doubles partner G Sathiyan, requested for exemption from the ongoing national camp in Sonepat, an explosive reply to a show-cause notice has emerged where she levelled allegations against national coach as well as the TTFI.
The reply to a show-cause notice for her refusal to let national coach advise her during her singles matches in Tokyo Olympics too has not gone down well. In the letter, she had denied all charges of indiscipline and instead alleged that the coach had tried to influence her to concede a match to his student during the Olympic qualifier event in March. And that was one of the reasons why she preferred to play alone.
According to the letter dated August 26 to TTFI secretary Arun Banerjee, "The national coach had pressurised me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for Olympics — in short — to indulge in match-fixing. I have evidence of this incident and I am ready to present it to the competent authorities at the appropriate time."
Manika went on to allege that the "same coach" had pressurised her to recommend his name as national coach for Olympics last year. She alleged in the letter that because of various pressure tactics she preferred to train alone. She stated that because of the circumstances, "During the Olympics, I wanted to keep away from the demoralising effect of such a coach".
In the same letter, Manika also alleged that the TTFI delayed sending a passport copy to the Indian Olympic Association even after her personal coach's name was included in the list of coaches.
However, TTFI officials felt that the issue should have been raised then and there and not now. "We are surprised that she raised the issue now," said an official. The TTFI is looking into all her allegations and would take action after proper inquiry.
"Whatever charges (match-fixing) Manika had levelled against national coach has been forwarded to him and we will wait for his reply," said Arun Banerjee, TTFI secretary. "We will wait for his reply and then take a decision."
Excerpts from the letter
...but the truth is that the 'empty chair' was the result of the national coach's pressure tactics for match fixing and TTFI's inaction to act on my prompt reporting of that incident and not the result of my so-called 'indiscipline'
If a coach's presence is going to harm the performance of a player, the coach can best help the player by remaining absent.
After the IOA had approved the inclusion of my personal coach in the Olympic list, TTFI was supposed to comply by immediately e mailing a copy of his passport to the IOA.
I reminded TTFI to e mail the passport. But still, TTFI kept on delaying. Through a what's app message, a TTFI official told me: "U send directly to IOA".