Sanjita Chanu and Yuki Bhambri dropped from TOPS
What's the story?
Indian Tennis prodigy Yuki Bhambri and the weightlifter Sanjita Chanu - who is a two-time Commonwealth Games champion - were dropped from the sports ministry’s flagship program, Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) on Wednesday. The two were dropped for contrasting reasons in decisions that were taken at the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) meeting, to clear funding proposals regarding training, competition, and equipment needs.
In case you didn't know...
TOPS is an initiative that was launched in 2015 by the Sports ministry to meet the direct requirements of athletes who can be potential medal winners in Olympics. The athletes receive a part of funding from TOPS. It includes fees for personal coaches and other support staff, cost of travel, stays during competition and training stints, and finally the purchase of equipment.
According to a statement, 152 athletes received financial aid under TOPS for preparation of 2016 Rio Olympics. The total amount spent was ₹ 36.85 crores. The new committee, which is headed by Abhinav Bindra, comprises of Indian sports stalwarts like PT Usha, former shooter Anjali Bhagwat, former weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, and Prakash Padukone. There are also five non-athlete members: Anil Khanna - life president of All India Tennis Association (AITA), P K Muralidharan Raja - who is the boxing administrator, Rekha Yadav - The Railways Sports Promotion Board secretary, SS Roy, and finally Inder Dhamija - SAI joint secretary (sports).
The committee has the objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games under the TOP scheme.
The heart of the matter
Sanjita Chanu - the two-time Commonwealth Games champion - was dropped following her suspension by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on alleged doping charges. She lifted a total of 192kg to win the gold in the 53kg category at 2018 Gold Coast CWG.
However, in a recent development, Chanu was tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in a test conducted during the World Championships in the USA in November last year. She was provisionally suspended by the international federation to bring back doping shame on the weightlifting contingent of the country yet again.
Yuki Bhambri was left out because he will not take part in the Jakarta Asian Games starting in August since the dates clash with the US Open, where he is expected to qualify for the main draw.
“It was decided to drop Sanjita from the TOPS as she stands suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation on doping charges,” an official of Sports Authority of India said in a statement.
“The committee has also decided to exclude men’s singles player Yuki Bhambri from the TOPS as he will not be playing in the Asian Games,” the official further added.
Men’s doubles specialist Divij Sharan has been included (in place of Yuki Bhambri) in the scheme till the Asian Games. The TOP scheme has been scrutinized over and over again due to the outcry over mishandling of the funds.
However, under the regime of the country’s first individual gold winner - Abhinav Bindra - the new committee seeks to bring a massive change to medals’ count in the upcoming Olympics. The strict steps that were taken by them, including dropping stalwarts like Gagan Narang for a dip in form, are a new ray for budding athletes who are desperate to perform in spite of lack of funds.
Do you feel that the decision to drop Sanjita Chanu and Yuki Bhambri was justified? Do let us know in the comments section below.