New Delhi: Former Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Wednesday termed AIBA's decision to suspend Indian woman boxer L Sarita Devi for refusing to accept bronze medal at the Asian Games podium ceremony as "unfortunate" and asked the Centre to take up the matter at the highest international level.
"It is very unfortunate. The IBF, sports ministry and all concerned authorities should have the guts to take it up at the highest level, including with the International Olympic Committee," Maken said.
Asking the boxing fraternity and related sports organisations to "stand firmly" behind their coaches and players, Maken said that it was not the first time that India suffered on this account.
He recalled this had happened with Indian boxers during the London Olympics also. "All sports organisations should take it up very seriously. As far as my views are concerned, the entire boxing fraternity should stand behind the boxers," Maken said.
The remarks of Maken, who is a Congress spokesperson, came after the international sports body, AIBA took strong action and provisionally suspended Sarita Devi for refusing to accept the bronze medal at the Asian Games podium ceremony.
Protesting against a controversial verdict, Sarita in an unprecedented move, had refused to wear the medal around her neck as she broke down on the podium during the ceremony for the 57-60 kg category.
The 29-year-old boxer accepted the medal in her hand and wiped her tears holding it, before handing it to South Korean silver medallist Ji-Na Park, who had defeated Sarita after a what seemed to be a "bad" referee decision.
Even though the AIBA had taken note of her written apology, the international body surprisingly decided to suspend the boxer and the national coaches.
Maken said it is happening again and again with Indian sportsperson at different sporting events and "Government of India should take it very seriously".
He also said that not only boxing organisation but "all sports organisations should take it very seriously".