The Delhi High Court recently ordered the suspension of the Table Tennis Federation of India .

Manika Batra, India’s highest-ranked female player in table tennis came into the headlines during Tokyo Olympics. There, she refused to have her coach Soumyadeep Roy on the sidelines during matches. Soon after, she also accused the national coach of ‘fixing’ matches during the Olympic qualification period. Finally, the Delhi High Court ordered the suspension of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

Let’s take a look at the chronology of events, underlining the controversy.

3rd September, 2021

The table tennis star files a complaint against her coach with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), accusing him of fixing matches. The federation promised to look into the matter but took no appropriate action.

15th September and 18th September 2021

Sutirtha Mukherjee was also suspended by the TTFI for the Asian Championships (Courtesy: The Indian Express)

The above instance led to her dropping out of the team for the Asian Championships. The TTFI, as a reason, stated that Batra did not attend the national camp, which was mandatory for the all players. TTFI also suspended Sutirtha Mukherjee, India’s second-highest ranked player from the competition.

Batra then moved to the Delhi High Court with the allegations. She questioned the decision by the federation to pull her out on grounds of mandatory presence at the camp.

17th November 2021

The court appointed a three-member committee until the investigations are complete. The three members were two former Supreme Court judges – Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice AK Sikri – and former athlete Gurbachan Singh Randhawa.

11th February 2022

The court announced suspension of the executive committee of TTFI and appointed another official to look into the matters pertaining to table tennis. “After having perused the report in case an administrator is not appointed to run the federation by suspending the executive body, the court will be failing in its duties towards sportspersons and the general public,” the court said.

The court also criticized the federation of appointing Soumyadeep Roy as the head coach. It further stated that coach’s actions were clearly motivated towards running his own private academy in a national camp.

“The fact that the court has appointed an administrator and called into question the clear conflict of interest by the coach in question. It’s without doubt that Manika’s plea has been upheld and merit has been found in her allegations,” Akshay Amritanshu, the lawyer of Manika Batra said.

Manika, in an earlier statement, said that she was ‘forced to approach’ the court after being left with no other choice, along with Sutirtha.

The committee also said that TTFI had only been safeguarding the interest of its officials.

Further statements and evidences

On October 27, some evidence was produced by TTFI to the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation). It included a text dated March 19, by Manika’s coach Sanmay to a former player. The text clearly mentioned what Manika Batra did for Sutirtha and that she chose to help her.

It then included a statement from an ITTF Blue Badge Umpire who was the officiator of the qualifying event in Doha. It said that he was aware of how the match would pan out. If Sutirtha had lost the match, her qualification would have relied on the rankings which could have made it difficult. Manika, then lost the match which eased the way for Sutirtha to an Olympics berth. This amounts to improper conduct.

Consequences after TTFI’s suspension

The suspension of the TTFI is a major blow to the entire national team. The Commonwealth and Asian Games would be the two big events on the calendar. The team also competes in a series of both national and international events. The senior national championships are also taking place in Shillong from 20th March. The court has asked to co-operate fully with the administrator as soon as he/she is appointed to take over the further proceedings and run the sport. Khel Now will keep you apprised with all developments.

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