MUMBAI, India (Reuters) - India’s hockey authority suffered another setback on Tuesday when it was revealed that a majority of the women’s team participating at last week’s Olympic qualifiers in Russia were both injured and unfit.
A day earlier, India’s Olympic Association (IOA) suspended the national hockey federation after a television program accused the organization’s secretary of corruption.
The IOA came under pressure to act after the sport’s minister called for hockey chiefs to quit and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) demanded better management of what is still officially regarded as the country’s national sport.
The hockey federation was already under fire after the men’s team, eight-time former gold medalists, were eliminated from the 2008 competition in Beijing, marking the first time they will miss the Olympics since first sending a team in 1928.
On Tuesday, the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted from a confidential report submitted by a government observer for women’s hockey 16 days prior to the team’s departure that a majority of the team were under treatment for injuries.
Like the men, India’s women failed to qualify for the August Olympics after finishing fourth in Kazan last week.
The newspaper quoted the report as stating: “Eleven girls are suffering from different injuries and are under treatment and thus not fit for international competition of Olympic qualifying standards.”
As per the physiological report, all the girls did not have the required cardio-respiratory fitness levels, the newspaper added.
“The recovery of all the girls is very poor and thus physiologically also they are unfit and do not have the standard desired for international competition,” government observer Dr Rupa Saini was quoted as stating in her report.
National women’s coach Maharaj Kishen Kaushik told Reuters on Tuesday that the observer should have informed the selectors about this before the team left for Kazan.
”It would have saved the government expenses,“ he said. ”There is no use crying over spilt milk. Injuries and fitness have always been a concern in women’s hockey.
“I have always suggested a long-term development program for this.”
Reporting by Sanjay Rajan; Editing by John O'Brien