The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Saraswati stays away from SAI felicitation
- Jyotirmoyee wants exemplary punishment for Sunita

Calcutta: Back from the Busan Asian Games with laurels aplenty, the Indian women athletes seem to have fallen back again in the pit of diplomacy that this marginal sport has been riddled with. A break in the Amateur Athletic Association, West Bengal (AAA,WB) saw the sport’s image tarnished again, when a felicitation meeting called by the SAI, Eastern Centre saw Bengal’s new golden girl Saraswati Saha absent herself.

Games medallist heptathlete Soma Biswas was present, but the girl sprinter who came over from Tripura straight under the SAI umbrella even before her teens to earn success and fame was not around.

The felicitation was organised by the SAI’s new director G. Kishore and a good umber of sports personalities from yesteryears were present. Amateur Athletic Association of India vice-president Arun Banerjee clearly said that Saraswati’s absenting herself was a “disappointment” and this could be just the beginning of yet another chapter in the acrimonious history of the association.

Asides, Bangkok Asian Games middle distance gold medallist Jyotirmoyee Sikdar has come out Tuesay with a scathing attack on drug-tainted Sunita Rani, whose middle distance medals (including her 1,500m gold) have now been officially stripped. Jyotirmoyee has asked for “exemplary punishment” for Sunita so that “nobody else can dare point fingers at our athletes who have done the country proud on so many occasions.”

Soma refused to comment on this aspect, preferring to “stay out of the controversy”, while saying that she has already started her preparations for forthcoming international meets. “I have yet to set any mark which I wish to achieve, but I am sure to improve on what I have in Busan,” she said. “Especially my weaker events.”

Saraswati’s possible break from the SAI umbrella will be a fallout of the break of former AAA, WB secretary Udoy Sarkar from the existing body. Politics of the association could possibly again claim a talent.

Jyotirmoyee had been the victim of such mud-slinging once, and it is necessary to keep the current talent crop out of this vicious circle.

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