Sports

Two-year bans for Sardara, Sandeep

Sardara Singh and Sandeep Singh were handed two-year bans from international hockey on Saturday on disciplinary grounds.

The two, members of the Indian team to play in the Asian Champions Trophy, had left the training camp in Bangalore recently without permission. The team was scheduled to leave for China on Sunday.

The decision was taken to send a “strong” message, said Hockey India (HI) Secretary-General Narinder Kumar Batra.

“Those who are associated with HI decided it was high time action was taken; otherwise juniors would also have learnt to become undisciplined. This is the third time they have done this and some strict action was necessary,” said Batra.

The two players can appeal against the decision within three days.

In case they appeal, a specially constituted committee would hear them. The committee will have one member each from the Sports Authority of India, Indian Olympic Association and athletes’ representatives. HI will be represented by two members. Sardara and Sandeep had first made themselves unavailable for the Azlan Shah tournament by opting to play in the Belgium league.

Then they left the camp to attend an event organised by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) in Mumbai. This was the final act that landed the two key players in a tough spot.

Sardara and Sandeep, according to Batra, would not be allowed to take part in any Hockey India-organised tournament. They, however, were free to play in any hockey league overseas and in the World Series Hockey to be held late this year.

Not impressed

According to HI sources, the committee was not impressed by the reasons given by the two players for their sudden departure from the camp. Sardara and Sandeep claimed to have taken permission from the chief coach, Michael Nobbs.

The Australian promptly denied it, as permission was reportedly sought late in the day with the players “booked” to fly out the next morning.

The meeting today was attended by Pargat Singh (disciplinary committee chairman), Col. Balbir Singh, A.B. Subbiah and B.P. Govinda (selectors), Mukesh Kumar and Rajneesh Mishra (athletes representatives), Nobbs, S.S. Grewal (camp co-ordinator), Mohammad Riaz, Clarence Lobo and Jugraj Singh (assistant coaches) and Harbinder Singh (Govt. observer).

Admitting that Sardara and Sandeep were among the best players available, Batra observed, “We hope better sense will prevail because no player is above the game.”

V. Raghunath and Vikas Sharma will replace Sandeep and Sardara in the team for the Asian Champions Trophy.

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