Lakshya Sen, India's highest ranked male badminton player, is in the eye of a storm of age fraud.
An FIR has been lodged by the coach of a badminton academy in Bengaluru alleging that Sen's family in collusion with the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy reduced his age by three years to give him an unfair advantage in the junior circuit.
Besides Sen and his coach Vimal Kumar, police have named the player's father, Dhirendra Sen, brother Chirag Sen, and mother Nirmala Sen in the FIR.
The police case has been registered under IPC Sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged record).
The complaint was filed by Nagaraja MG, who also runs a badminton academy in Bengaluru.
Sen, according to records, was born in 2001. Nagaraja claimed he was born in 1998.
According to the Badminton World Federation (BWF), Lakshya is currently 21 years old with a birth date of August 16, 2001.
Categorically denying the charges, coach Vimal Kumar told PTI: "It is very annoying. It is cheap stuff. Lakshya has done well and has started training again after a break. It is mentally very disturbing for him."
The chief coach of Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Kumar further said in a statement that the allegations were "baseless, frivolous and made with malicious intent".
"As all badminton lovers are aware, age verification is the sole prerogative and responsibility of the Badminton Association of India who is sole governing authority for administering the game in India," he said.
"All players no matter where they train always represent their respective affiliated state units or the country while participating in any domestic or international tournament.
"My focus over the 30 years as a coach has always been to groom our upcoming youngsters to the best of my ability to bring laurels for our country based on their merit.
"I therefore deny all these false allegations against me. I would not like to make any further comments in this regard," he added.
This is not the first time there has been a complaint of a similar nature against the Sen family. In 2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had said that manipulation in birth certificates had been consciously done by the parents of Chirag Sen, Lakshya's elder brother. Chirag had been barred from U17 badminton events by BAI following this.
"The manipulation has been done under false declaration by misusing the provisions of Section 13 of The Registration of Birth and Deaths Act, 1969 to make eligible their child to play in lower age groups and make better performance compared to their peers and a result got sponsorship/grants, etc from respective state govts/central govt/PSUs and other institutions and consequential benefits," the report stated.
Chirag currently is shown as 24 with a birth date of July 22, 1998 by BWF.
Lakshya Sen has been the poster boy of Indian badminton over the last year. In 2021, he became the youngest Indian to qualify for the BWF World Tour Finals.