Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS):
Indian tennis veteran Mahesh Bhupathi Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the All India Tennis Association (AITA), saying its administration is detrimental to growth of sport in the country and he has no choice but to accept the two-year ban slapped on him by the “dictatorial” body.
Bhupathi, 38, who is at the fag-end of his career, said that after much thought he decided to take on the AITA.
“I am here to detail episodes of the personal vendetta the AITA and its dictatorial rule have carried out against me over the last decade. Tennis has given me everything I am today and, by god’s grace, I am able to give back a lot to my sport, be it running tennis events, building tennis courts, raising money for talented kids and even opening academies across the country,” Bhupathi read out his statement at a media conference here.
“However, at every step of the way the establishment has put a spoke in the wheel. So much so that they changed the constitution to make sure we are not able to run any event in India without them being part of it.”
Taking a dig at AITA president Anil Khanna, Bhupathi said Khanna enjoyed the public spat between him and Paes.
“Anil Khanna has enjoyed the rift between Leander and me as no other. He has re-defined the term divide and rule and at this year’s Olympics, used Leander’s shoulder to fire the gun against me multiple times. Unfortunately, the media terms this a Bhupathi-Paes rift and the true underbelly is left unquestioned.”
The 37-year-old claimed that AITA was jealous of the fact that he has been able to do more for the sport.
“Over 80 percent of members of the executive committee have sat there for close to twenty years if not more and they are yet to produce one professional tennis player. The Krishnans, the Amritrajs, Zeeshan (Ali), Leander, Sania (Mirza), Rohan (Bopanna), Somdev (Devvarman) and Yuki (Bhambri) have not benefited from their system. Yet they continue to hold their positions and go about their jobs in the name of Indian tennis.
“I have extended a hand of friendship to Anil Khanna several times but he was not forthcoming. He always wanted full control of things.”
Bhupathi said he felt for his partner and regretted not playing his farewell match for India.
“It looks like I have no choice but to accept this ban. I don’t know who to complain on the matter.
“I do feel really bad for my friend and partner Rohan who has been caught in the cross-fire of dirty politics. As far as I’m concerned I was always banned by the AITA, they never supported anything I did for the sport, only when they couldn’t do without me and they needed the doubles point in Davis Cup, I got the E-mail.
“They continue to misuse the power. They have to try and teach me a lesson only because they feel I am able to do a lot more for the sport than they do,” he concluded.