The Athletics Federation of India has denied reports that majority of its members who travelled to Nanjing, China to participate in the Asian Youth Games were overaged. The sports ministry has now ordered an inquiry.
On Monday, AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told NDTV: "We sent athletes who were under 18 years of age, as is the norm with Youth Games. However, the organisers changed that to under-17 at the last moment. This is a clear case of miscommunication. I urge an inquiry commission be set up to reach the bottom of this issue."
Sumariwalla added Chinese authorities were aware of the age of the Indian athletes. "If they were over-aged the organisers wouldn't have issued visas in the first place," Sumariwalla explained.
In a big embarrassment to India, as many as 17 'overaged' Indian athletes were asked to return home. They were part of a 27-member squad participating in the youth Games under the International Olympic Committee flag since the Indian Olympic Association is under suspension. Sumariwalla said the India athletes will not be returning home.
Meanwhile, the Sports Authority of India said the blame lies squarely with the AFI. A senior official said the federation didn't check the age limit guidelines while selecting the squad.
"AFI thought that athletics in the Youth Games would follow the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules according to which post 1996-born players are eligible. The players were picked accordingly. But the Games are being held as per the IOC rules. I am sure the organizers must have sent the rules of the Games to every federation, but someone might not have bothered to read them," the official said.