New Delhi: Unhappy at the non-inclusion of one of its players, Rowing Federation of India has alleged that "undeserving candidates" were recommended for the prestigious Arjuna Award through canvassing by disregarding the government guidelines.
In a letter to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, RFI President C P Singh Deo said that rower Saji Thomas was overlooked for the award despite his consistent achievements in the last 10 years, including winning two silver medals in Asian Games last year.
Thomas also won a silver in the 2009 Asian Rowing Championships in Taiwan.
"No consideration has been paid to the guidelines issued from your Ministry as eligibility criteria for the most prestigious sporting excellence award of the country," Deo said in the letter.
"Some of the names recommended by the committee do not qualify the eligibility criteria mentioned in the letter issued by your Ministry. This gives rise to the speculation that canvassing is the norm to get the award, in violation of paragraph 11.8 of the Scheme enclosed with the MYAS letter," he said.
"Due to reasons unknown, a most outstanding rower of my discipline, Saji Thomas has been overlooked by the committee in spite of his achievements par excellence in international competition, combined with a consistency of 10 years even though the requirement is of three years. After giving his best for 10 years to the sport, he won two silver medals at the 2010 Asian Games, China," the letter said.
No rower was recommended by the committee for Arjuna Award.
Deo said some names in the recommended list do not have any consistent achievements over the previous three years and they have taken precedence over outstanding athletes.
"It is obvious that canvassing is the order of the day, contrary to efforts of your Ministry to prevent canvassing and ensure that recognition is accorded for exceptional talent and dedication in sports, in a fair, transparent and equitable manner, to the deserving.
"As the final authority to approve the recommendations, I beseech you to take a closer look at the recommendations in comparison with the achievements of Saji Thomas and see that justice is not denied to one of the most deserving athlete of the decade. Saji Thomas will retire from rowing at the end of this year," Deo said in the letter.