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Hockey India reduces ban on midfielder Gurbaj Singh

New Delhi: Gurbaj Singh is eligible to play with immediate effect after Hockey India (HI) reduced the nine-month ban imposed on the senior India midfielder on Saturday.

The duration of the ban imposed on Gurbaj was from August 10 till May 9 next year after assistant coach Jude Felix had submitted a report post the conclusion of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals in Belgium providing feedback on the player's misconduct during the last three tournaments -- HWL Semi-Finals, India vs Japan series and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The HI clarified on Saturday that the right-half has already served the reduced period of the ban.

However, the HI/HIL Athletes Disputes and Grievance Redressal Committee, that includes former players Harbinder Singh, R.P. Singh, A.B. Subbaiah and Jasjeet Kaur, issued a warning to the player.

"We issue Gurbaj a warning that should he misconduct himself in the future, this committee should take serious note of the same. Should any complaint be received regarding his conduct in the future, it is clarified, that his past record, including that at the London Olympics will be taken into consideration," the committee said in its report.

Gurbaj had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the ban advised by the committee. But the court had directed the HI to review its decision after finding that Gurbaj's alleged misconduct was not serious enough to merit a ban.

Committee chairman Harbinder Singh told IANS that they reduced the ban because of the court's argument that neither the World Hockey Federation (FIH) nor the HI have any rules regarding indiscipline by a player during training camp. The FIH rules only permit the body to take action over incidents of misbehaviour during a match.

"We had also kept in mind Gurbaj's record of repeated misconduct in the past while imposing the ban," Harbinder added. "The committee has also advised the HI to make rules on indiscipline during the training camps."

Gurbaj had landed in trouble with the HI earlier as well when he was banned after the 2012 Olympics when then chief coach Michael Nobbs found him to be indulging in groupism and creating disharmony within the squad.

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