The IOA today blamed the Paralympic Committee of India for para-powerlifter Sakina Khatun's exclusion from the country's team for Gold Coast CWG even as the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has said that it will explore the possibility of her late inclusion.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had put the blame squarely on the PCI for Khatun's exclusion, which has created a huge furore in the country.
Even though the IOA acknowledged that Khatun has qualified well in time for this year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (CWG), the country's Olympic body said the PCI did not send the powerlifter's name on time.
"As governing body of Paralympic movement in India, PCI ought to have been aware that the deadline of qualification for Para Powerlifting in 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was 31 October, 2017," IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta wrote in a letter to PCI CEO Group Captain Shahrukh Shamshad (Retd.)
"The IOA has sent mails to all participating member National Sports Federations including PCI on 2 August, 18 September, 4 October and 9 October 2017 regarding accreditation and entries of 2018 Gold Coast Games. There was no timely reply from PCI irrespective of repeated reminders," he said.
"The last date for IOA to submit the Universality Invitation application for Para Powerlifting athlete qualification was 8 December 2017. The last date for sending back the confirmation for Para Powerlifting was 22 December 2017."
Mehta said PCI's mistake has put the IOA in an embarrassing situation and sought an explanation from the federation.
"In the case of Ms. Khatun, the Paralympic Committee of India did not send her name before the deadline. The omission from your end is a serious mistake, which has caused lot of distress for the athlete and also embarrassment for the IOA," the IOA secretary general said.
"We request you to please explain and clarify the lapse from your end."
Even as the controversy continued, the CGF had yesterday said that it will explore the possibility of a late call-up for Khatun after the IOA made a request.
Khatun, who won a bronze in para-powerlifting in the women's lightweight (up to 61kg) category in 2014 Commonwealth Games, had threatened to commit suicide after she was not included in the Indian team for the upcoming CWG. She has also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in the matter.
"The CGF has received a letter sent by the Secretary General of Indian Commonwealth Games Association (CGA), Mr. Rajeev Mehta, expressing concern over India's athlete allocation in the sport of Para-Powerlifting at Gold Coast 2018; and more specifically, the omission of Indian female Para-Powerlifter, Ms Sakina Khatun," CGF CEO David Grevemberg said in a statement.
"...the CGF and IPC only received the names of four male athletes for consideration in Men's Para-Powerlifting competition. The CGF did not receive any female Para- Powerlifting nominations from Indian CGA, nor did CGF receive any queries or concerns from Indian CGA at the time that we communicated the names of the four male Indian athletes we had determined were eligible for the Games," the statement said.
On December 1 last year, the PCI secretary general J Chandrashekar sent to IOA a list of 11 para-athletes for accreditation. The list has the names of only four male para-powerlifters.
The four are Sachin Chaudhry, Jaideep, Farman Basha and Ashok.
The rest of the 11 are four swimmers and three from athletics.
The CGF, nonetheless, said that the IOA failed to nominate any athletes for the women's para-powerlifting competition.
"For absolute clarification, the Indian CGA did not follow due process as outlined in the CGF Para-Powerlifting Athlete Allocation System, as it failed to nominate any athletes for the Women's Para-Powerlifting competition at Gold Coast 2018, including Ms Khatun," the CGF said.
"The CGF has noted the Indian CGA's administrative error. However, acknowledging the wellbeing of Ms Khatun, and the Federation's commitment to the development of Para-Sport and gender equality, the CGF will review the Indian CGA's late request for a reallocation slot, should an opportunity to grant an additional slot become available."
Grevemberg said under the CGF Para-Powerlifting Athlete Allocation System for Gold Coast 2018, a CGA (the IOA in this case) is required to nominate those athletes they wish to be considered for the Games.