New Delhi: As L Sarita Devi awaits "strict punishment" for refusing to accept her Asian Games medal after a controversial loss, the veteran has found support from the biggest name in Indian boxing, Vijender Singh, who feels the world body should review its officials' conduct instead of banning her.
Sarita's career has been thrown into jeopardy after International Boxing Association (AIBA) chief Ching-Kuo Wu asserted that she would be heavily punished so much so that she can consider her career as good as over.
Sarita, who is currently serving a provisional suspension forcing her out of World Championships starting tomorrow, had refused to accept her bronze at the Games medal ceremony after losing the semifinal bout to host South Korea's Park Ji-na.
Vijender Singh. Pic/ AFP
"I can understand why she reacted the way she did. As a boxer I know how tough it is to be denied like that. It was an emotional reaction to a very disappointing loss," Vijender, who was a silver-medallist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, told PTI.
Sarita's fate is expected to be decided soon during the ongoing AIBA Congress where the body's disciplinary committee would be giving its report on the matter after the Indian offered an unconditional apology for her actions.
Three coaches, including national men's coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, are also awaiting a decision on the provisional suspension imposed on them for being at the ringside when the drama unfolded in Incheon.
"It takes four years of preparation to come to a big tournament like the Asian Games and to lose after dominating, it is very painful and anybody would feel bad or break down. I am fully with her on this," he said.
Vijender, India's first Olympics and World Championships medallist in boxing, said the AIBA should rather review its judges and referees.
"We athletes get to such tournaments after a lot of hard work and some luck. The AIBA should ensure that we get the best referees and judges. I feel they (the referees and judges) are the ones who should be reviewed. AIBA should forgive Sarita and work towards ensuring a better system," he said.
Despite the AIBA President's strict view of her actions, Sarita is hopeful of the ban being lifted.