Rajlaxmi Singh Deo, the President of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI), was left shocked after Dattu Baban Bhokanal wrote a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Athletes Commission, urging them to reduce the period of his ban.
“We are really really shocked that he has written directly to the Indian Olympic Association athletes commission because he could have applied to RFI athletes commission,” Rajlaxmi Singh told ANI on Tuesday.
The rower had been banned by the RFI over disciplinary issues on March 29 last year for a period of two years. The Olympian shot a letter to the Athletics Commission chairman Anju Bobby George, where he requested them to look into the matter and get his ban period reduced, so he was eligible to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games starting in July.
George, then, sent out a letter to the IOA, where she requested them to review the ban that, according to her, had been unfairly given to Bhokanal. The IOA, following George’s letter, wrote to the RFI, asking them to share the rules of his suspension and why a player of his calibre had been given such a strict punishment. They also asked the RFI to clearly mention the mechanisms of appeal for the athlete against his ban.
Rajlaxmi, on her part, stated that Bhokanal had admitted to the charges of the misconduct, following which the suspension was handed over to him. “On two deeds of misconducts we gave Bhokanal a showcase notice and at the executive committee meeting, he admitted to both charges of misconduct. So we unanimously decided to ban him for two years.”
The Indian rower had made waves on the circuit after qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics to become just the ninth rower to represent India at the multi-national event. Enlisted in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) then, the Army man finished fourth in the Men’s Sculls quarter-finals at Rio. He also returned with a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in the Men’s Quadruple Sculls event, the same event where he was in the news for misconduct.