INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - Indian boxer L Sarita Devi could face disciplinary action after being reported to Asian Olympic officials for refusing to accept her bronze medal at the Asian Games on Wednesday.
Sarita refused to wear the medal when it was presented to her on Wednesday, taking it only in her hand before trying to drape it over another competitor who had beaten her in a fight the previous day.
When the presentation was over, she left the medal behind, despite being told by the organizers to take it with her.
The International Boxing Federation took a dim view of her actions, submitting a formal report to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) over her behavior.
“The whole incident looked like a well planned scenario by her and her team, and it is regretful to watch a boxer refuse the medal regardless of what happened in the competition,” AIBA supervisor David Francis said in a statement.
“In this regard, as the Technical Delegate, I had to request OCA to review this incident, so any boxer or athlete in other sports will not follow in her footsteps by respecting the spirit of fair-play and sportsmanship of the Olympic Movement.”
Sarita had to settle for the bronze medal after losing her lightweight semi-final on Tuesday to South Korea’s Park Ji-na, who was declared a unanimous 3-0 winner.
But the result was disputed by India, who thought Sarita should have been declared the winner, prompting cries of foul.
Her husband Thoiba Singh launched an expletive-laden tirade at the judges, according to Indian newspapers, before Sarita lodged a protest against the outcome, which was rejected, prompting more complaints from India.
“It was clear that the whole Indian Boxing Team were protesting the AIBA Referees and Judges’ system and management, which was obviously caused by a lack of understanding of the AIBA Technical and AOB Competition Rules,” Francis said in his statement.
“The Indian Team submitted a protest, however the Indian Team did not follow the AIBA Technical Rules and protested against the judges’ decisions, though the Rules only allow a protest against the Referee’s Decision.”
Indian media also criticized their country’s team officials at Incheon for not helping Sarita, saying she had to borrow $500 to lodge her protest.
Several dailies featured a crying Sarita on the front page, claiming she had been “robbed in the ring” by “biased” judges.
“The fact that all the three judges gave it to the Korean clearly shows the result of the bout was decided before the start,” India’s Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez told the Times of India newspaper.
”You can understand if such a thing happens in a close bout but this was totally one-sided and this is a poor advertisement for boxing.
“In fact, the Korean coach is a good friend of mine and he came and said sorry,” Fernandez said.
AIBA said it had already proceeded with its disciplinary actions and a decision will be made immediately after the Asian Games, which end on Saturday.
Additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by John O'Brien/Amlan Chakraborty