The CBI said on Friday that it had unearthed a racket in which four table tennis players in West Bengal had manipulated their dates of birth to enable them to play in lower age categories for getting better results and earning better ranks to avail scholarships or grants from the state or Central governments.
According to sources, after a Sports Integrity Unit was set up in CBI, several complaints alleging manipulation of age documents by players taking part in various national and international events in different sports were received. The CBI initiated enquiries in one such complaint, pertaining to the four players.
The CBI enquiry allegedly revealed that parents or guardians of the players had misused the provisions of Section 13(3) of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 and obtained new birth certificates with manipulated date of births on the basis of affidavits before the court.
As a result of the manipulation in dates of birth, the players performed better while playing with players of a lower age group, and their rankings at the state and national level improved. High rankings allegedly enabled these players to participate in international events, and also enabled them to avail scholarships, grants or contracts.
According to CBI sources, one TT player of North Bengal ranked third in 2009 in the sub-junior category and again ranked third in the junior category in 2013 though she was not eligible for both events. This allegedly allowed her to participate in international tournaments, getting her scholarships from the Airport Authority of India worth Rs.2.5 lakh since 2011.
A player from the West Bengal TT Association secured the top national ranking in the sub-junior category in 2009. She allegedly participated in international tournaments in 2012 in China, Guatemala, El Salvador and Hungary despite being ineligible for the same. She even obtained a scholarship from Indian Oil and subsequently from ONGC worth Rs.4.92 lakh since 2011, sources said.
The fourth player ranked second in the nation in the cadet category in 2009 and ranked first in the sub-junior category in 2011. Based these rankings, she took part in international tournaments in USA in 2011, as well as in China, Pakistan and Slovak last year, sources said. She allegedly earned more than Rs.60,000 from the Airport Authority of India as contractual amount till date.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs had earlier issued guidelines to all national Sports Federations for maintaining a diligent record of age and conduct verification at regular intervals, and also to thoroughly enquire into any complaint of manipulation of age. “However, the CBI enquiry has revealed that these guidelines are not being adhered to and the age fraud is rampant in all popular sports and games,” said a CBI source.
The CBI is now sending reports to the Table Tennis Federation of India, the West Bengal government, some Central government PSUs, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Registrar of Births and Deaths for taking appropriate.
A report has already been sent to the Chief Secretary of West Bengal and Army headquarters for action as deemed fit against the fathers of the players for their false declarations relating to the age of their children. A report has also been sent to Table Tennis Federation of India for taking appropriate action against the players.