Ending months of speculation regarding her career, troubled Indian female boxer L. Sarita Devi was Wednesday banned for one year and fined Swiss francs 1,000 by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for refusing to accept her 2014 Asian Games bronze medal.
The world boxing body also handed down two-year bans, ending October 1, 2016 to the 29-year-old boxer's husband Thoiba Singh and coach B.I. Fernandez, and barred her coach Lenin Meitei for one year ending October 1, 2015. Fernandez was also fined Swiss francs 2,000 and Meitei Swiss francs 1,000. (Sarita Receives Medal)
The AIBA, however, relieved Indian boxing chief coach G.S. Sandhu from all charges of misdemeanour.
"The Disciplinary Commission Chair rules that Laishram Sarita Devi is suspended from any activity at the National, Confederation and International levels for a period of one year starting from the 2014 Asian Games medal ceremony (Oct 1). Devi shall pay a fine of Swiss francs 1,000. Devi's suspension shall end on October 1, 2015, provided that all fines have been paid and no additional DC rulings have been rendered against her," an AIBA statement said.
Speculation was rife that the apex body of world boxing will impose a life-ban on the former world champion. The Indian government had earnestly appealed for consideration of her humble background and controversy-free image to spare her a career-ending ban.
The ban will run till October 1, 2015, providing her an opportunity to represent the country in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Expressing her views on the verdict, Sarita Devi said in a release: "I am hugely relieved and would like to thank the boxing fraternity and Boxing India for helping me sail through these difficult times."
"I will now be able to participate in the Games and will work harder to bring laurels to the nation."
In Incheon, a day after she lost the 60-kg category semi-final bout to host challenger Jina Park despite dominating the bout, an inconsolable Sarita refused to accept the bronze medal and later handed it over to Park, who left the medal on the podium before making her exit at the Seonhak Gymnasium.
Expressing his opinion on the AIBA verdict, Boxing India (BI) president Sandeep Jajodia said: "AIBA's verdict on Sarita Devi comes as a relief to Boxing India, the boxing fraternity, Sarita's fans and boxing enthusiasts around the world."
"The one-year ban ending October 2015 can further be reduced on the basis of her good demeanour and hard work. We will, in the meanwhile, continue to correspond with AIBA to reduce the punishment, thus enabling and motivating Sarita to prepare for her qualifications for Olympics."
Jojodia also said that Sarita, mother of two, will now be relieved of the mental trauma and can focus on boxing wholeheartedly.
Jajodia added: "I wish for Sarita to recover from her wrist injury in this interim period, and advise her to focus on further sharpening her boxing skills and on her fitness to be able to participate in the international events to happen after her suspension gets over."