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BAI issues media gag, warns players against badmouthing IBL in public

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil! This is the fiat issued by the Indian Badminton League (IBL) to players taking part in the Aug 14-31 tourney.

Stung by the stringent criticism from some shuttlers over the way player auctions for the upcoming Indian Badminton League were conducted recently, the Badminton Association of India and the league's organisers have barred players from talking to the media.

"It has been decided that only BAI president (Akhilesh Das Gupta) and Ashish Chada (CEO of the league's commercial partner Sporty Solutionz) will issue statements. Clauses have been inserted into the contracts for officials and players," a top source told PTI today.

Though officials of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and several shuttlers denied any knowledge of the warning-letter, sources close to the latter confirmed that they have indeed received the caution.

"The letter states that the players should not badmouth the IBL in the media, they should only talk in complimentary terms," a top source told IANS Wednesday.

Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa
Jwala Gutta (left) and Ashwini Ponnappa blast organisers of the Indian Badminton League auction for treating them with 'disrespect'.

The source confirmed that the letters were sent out in the last couple of days.

The IBL was severely criticised by several players for slashing their base price, particularly those playing doubles.

Controversy erupted after Jwala Gutta and her former doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa, bronze medalists in the 2011 World Championship and title winners in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, lashed out at the IBL after their base price was slashed to half just before the start of the auction.

Jwala and Ponnappa were two of the six icon players who went under the hammer, but just hours before the auction, the IBL decided to reduce their base price from USD 50,000 (Rs 29,86,264) to USD 25,000 (14,93,125) after consultation with the six franchises.

In the auction, Jwala went to Krrish Delhi Smashers for USD 31,000 (Rs 18,51,520), while Pune Pistons bagged Ashwini for USD 25,000.

"When you sign a contract stating that you are an icon player, who wouldn't be sad or feel cheated or let down. I have promoted IBL like no other player. I have been to many cities to promote it. I thought icon players will be treated equally," a miffed Jwala had said soon after the action.

A couple of days later she said she was still happy to be a part of IBL and will let her racquet speak for her on the badminton court.

"The minimum thing we expected was to be informed. Nevertheless, I am very happy to be part of IBL. I am very much looking forward to it. Badminton court is my territory and that’s where I will do most of my talking. I will let my racquet speak for myself," Jwala said.

Men's doubles specialists Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas too cried foul for being treated as "low profile players" and having their base prices slashed at the auction without being informed.

Rupesh and Thomas even toyed with the idea of pulling out before finally relenting.

Denmark's Mathias Boe had a different grouse. He hit out at the organisers and franchises for leaving him high and dry with no one wanting him. 

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