Punish athletes who recommend multiple names for Dronas: Akhil

New Delhi, Aug 18:

Olympian and national observer for boxing Akhil Kumar today called for strict action against athletes, who recommend multiple coaches’ names for the Dronacharya awards.

The national sports awards — Arjuna, Dronacharya and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — have been mired in controversy for a number of years now and the former Commonwealth Games gold- medallist wants a complete overhaul of the process.

“There are two ways to cleanse the system. You can try politely and if it doesn’t work, then use the rod. If there’s some sanction, they would realise,” the Olympic quarter- finalist told PTI on the sidelines of a function.

“If you charge athletes under section 420 of IPC (for cheating), they will learn a lesson. I find it surprising that one athlete recommends multiple coaches for Dronacharya award. Guru ek hota hai (You only have one teacher),” he said.

An Arjuna awardee, Akhil cited the example of women’s boxing in which there are three Arjuna awardees (MC Mary Kom, Sarajubala Devi and Sarita Devi) and as many as five “Droancharyas”.

“Take my example. I wouldn’t even know how many have applied for Dronacharya using my name. May be I haven’t even trained under them. If I discuss boxing with someone, he doesn’t become my coach,” he said.

“Look at our boxing (women’s). We have three Arjuna awardees and count the Dronacharyas!” he said sarcastically.

Asked about a solution to this age-old malaise, Akhil said the Sports Ministry should revamp the entire selection process by making it online.

“Let’s have every information online. Name the contenders online, cite all their national and international achievements. Mention the points associated with each event and how much points each candidate has got. No one would then question the process. You don’t need committees for that.

“Don’t just make it a draw of lots so that no one knows who’s getting the award and who’s not getting it. Make it transparent so that the sanctity of such prestigious award is maintained,” he signed off.

While the points system is already in place for evaluating the contenders, the selection is done by a committee, comprising former awardees. This year a retired High Court judge headed the panel to avoid controversies.

The awards have not been free of controversy this year as well with ignored athletes such as tennis star Rohan Bopanna and Paralympic silver-medallist Deepa Malik complaining about the lack of recognition for their achievements. PTI


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