Asian Games: Why didn't IOA advise Sarita Devi to approach CAS?

Incheon: The last of the Sarita Devi case has not been heard. Even as gold medallist and legendary MC Mary Kom was critical of Sarita's action on the podium in an interview to a TV Channel in India, it is still unclear as to what Sarita has apologised for.

Boxer L Sarita Devi (seen with her son) arrives at the Imphal airport on Saturday after a bittersweet Asian Games in Incheon. Pic/PTI
Boxer L Sarita Devi (seen with her son) arrives at the Imphal airport on Saturday after a bittersweet Asian Games in Incheon. Pic/PTI 

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) issued a statement saying the boxer (Sarita) has regretted her actions. But it seems that regret has come through a letter forward to AIBA by Chef-de-Mission Adille Sumariwalla, who has been keen to ensure that Sarita does not get suspended or banned.

The AIBA statement said: "The Head of the Indian Mission (sic) at the Incheon Asian Games 2014 Mr Adille J Sumariwalla has forwarded to the President of the International Boxing Association, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, a letter of apology of woman boxer Sarita Laishram Devi (57-60kg) who had refused to receive the bronze medal at the Award Ceremony for the 17th Asian Games.

"Mrs Devi expressed 'an unconditional apology' for her 'emotional outburst' at the ceremony yesterday, writing that 'I regret and apologise. Such an incident will never reoccur in the future'." The OCA reinstated her medal on Friday after a hearing by the Olympic Council of Asia during which the Indian delegation expressed regrets over the incident. The medal was given to Sumariwalla.

CAS, OCA Asiad tie-up
But it is not clear as to what Sarita Devi apologised for — was it for her action on the podium or was it for her protest on the decision and has she accepted the medal, even though the OCA has given it to IOA?

The athlete reserves the right to approach the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS), which has it headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Interestingly, the CAS for the first time signed an agreement with the OCA to have an ad hoc committee present at the Asian
Games. But no one knows, whether the 2006 World Champion Sarita was aware of the ad hoc committee and that she could have approached them.

The Indian contingent could well have advised her on that, but did they? Sarita could still approach the CAS in Lausanne, which could well ask for the tapes of the bout and then decide on it. The last certainly has not been heard on this.

OCA sympathises

After reinstating L Sarita Devi's medal following an apology from her and the IOA, the Olympic Council of Asia on Saturday said the boxer's disappointment on losing a controversial Asiad semi-final was understandable but her emotional outburst at the presentation ceremony was uncalled for, according to OCA president Sheikh Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. 



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