Karateka accuses federation of bias in Asiad selection

Mumbai: Model-turned karateka Sandhya Shetty today accused All India Karate Do Federation (AIKF) of "bias and favouritism" for leaving her out of the final preparatory camp for next month`s Asian Games and vowed to get justice.

Shetty, who is also an actor, said she was excluded from the final probables list for the November 12-27 Games at Guangzhou, China, in the 67 kg category for women by the federation which has included Simi Batala from Punjab, a fighter she had beaten on all occasions in duels.

"I had halted my highly lucrative (modelling) career for one year and even declined plum assignments and films to ensure that my passion in karate is fulfilled. I was very confident of my berth in the Asian Games squad," she told reporters here.

Shetty claimed she had defeated Batala in all the bouts between them, including the national championships in Chennai in 2010, and in the bout in July-August to pick the final woman participant (in 67kg) to represent India in China.

"I have proved myself at all levels including the nationals and the selection trials. I have always defeated her (Simi). Then why is the bias? Is it because of political pressure? Or is it because she is affiliated to a group which finds favour from the AIKF?," she asked.

Shetty said that Batala and the AIKF general secretary hailed from the same affiliated unit.

She further claimed that while she had attended all the four preparatory camps until her exclusion, Batala had missed a camp in January 2010, which was overseen by Iranian coach Rushid Niya.

After the Maharashtra Karate Association did not show interest in her case, she has approached Injeti Srinivas, Joint Secretary (Sports), Union Ministry of Youth and Affairs, who has assured her to look into the matter.

Thirteen gold medals are up for grabs in Karate in the Asian Games, with the martial arts events to be held between November 24-26.

Shetty said that five men and five women have been selected to represent India in various categories in Karate during the Games.

Meanwhile, Chief National Coach and Maharashtra Karate Association president Vispi Kapadia said that the decision to exclude Shetty was taken by Iranian coach Ali Ehsani and it was final and binding.

"Apart from winning and fighting, there may be some other criteria also like age. They may have though of giving a younger player a chance. We are also sad as she is good in Karate and has sacrificed her career and this is what happens to her invariably. Besides, now there is no representation from Maharashtra," he said.

Kapadia, who is also the AIKF Vice President, said though he had forwarded Shetty`s complaint to the AIKF president, secretary and the state secretary, chances of her being selected for the Asian Games squad were now bleak.

"The decision has of the selection committee is final and binding. Besides, the accreditation of the players for the Games have also come. It is too late now. But a word from the Union Sports Minister may carry some weight," he added.