TODAY -

An Ugly Conspiracy Turns Sinister Politics in Sports

Mohen Naorem *

It is a conspiracy. Monika Devi, one of the best weightlifters of the world has missed the Beijing Olympics. The episode is a humiliating chapter in the sports history.

Monika was intentionally and forcefully withdrawn from the Indian squad hours before she was to board the flight to Beijing for failing a dope test. Later it was announced that she was cleared of charges by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). To her dismal, she was not allowed to participate in the Olympics.

Who will make her losses? It is four years of dedication, hard work and perseverance that has been washed away by an alleged doping charge. The culprits must be find out and punished legally for assassinating the character and career of Monika Devi. They must also paid huge compensation to her.

Well, the Beijing Olympics is now a history and several records were made to be broken again at the 2012 London Olympics. India is happy this time with 3 Olympic medals. India has won a first ever gold in an individual event along with two bronze medals. It is improving now. But how will Indian sports shine when there are controversies, conspiracy and nepotism?

Monika episode is an eye opener to the ugly policies of the sport officials who are enjoying lavish lifestyles, drawing huge salaries from the government for the sake of promoting sports in the country. It is a conspiracy between the officials and players. This happens everywhere in the world. However, there must be some ways to deal with such dirty bureaucrats. Politicizing the Monika issue will be a wrong step. If the people do not react and agitated in a correct direction, it will end as a blame game, never to give justice to her.

Monika Devi, a Manipur born and wedded to a non Manipuri weightlifting coach, Santosh Kumar should clearly understand the situation she is facing now. She cannot kill her sporting career by politicizing the controversial issues; she should realize herself as one of the bright prospects for Indian sports in coming years.

It is unwise for her to engage herself in the probe for truth. She should not forget the ethics, discipline and sportsmanship of a player. Let her husband whole heartedly fight to deliver justice to his Meetei wife. He might know how to deal with those Indian officials in Delhi.

It is absurd to call general strikes in Manipur state, any form of mass protests and burning the effigies of the Chief Minister of Manipur and other Political leaders of India. The Monika case is not a political issue; rather it is a personal matter between the officials and Monika. No political parties or leaders can solve her case. Instead of getting justice, the player might end her sporting career.

This is a battle where she will fight alone in a true sportsmanship. She should show to the world, the Chinese opponents or the Ukrainian player that she is not a failure. She should be ready to challenge them in other International championships again. It's a false pride for her to proclaim that she might win a medal in the Beijing Olympics.

Currently Monika is 15th in the World ranking. Her record lift is just 235 kg in International competition. This is way behind the Bronze winning lift of 250 kg by the Ukrainian lifter, Natalya Davydova. It is wrong to underestimate the opponent player without participating in the competition. Be prepared, work harder, fight and proudly stand in the winning podium. Such " I Might Do" words are often heard from Indian politicians, it is better she should stay away from politics and their political rhetoric.

It is sports that give Monika a Havildar post in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a good non Manipuri husband. She has no right to blame the Indian. She should have national feeling and pride. Will she able to severe her relationship with Santosh, an Indian? Not possible. It was the Army Chief JJ Singh who feted her for the silver medal in Melbourne Commonwealth Games with a cash award of Rs 75,000.

It is sad that people of Manipur seems to forget what is the value of sports in their life. After agriculture, sports are another avenue for job. 80% of Manipuri working in Central government departments are through sports quota. It is through sports that the Manipuri race is known by the International community.

Today, politics find a way into the sports in Manipur. A conspiracy to stop Monika from participating the Olympics has become a political issue. It has a negative impact on the minds of players in the state. Mass protest rallies were organized by players from different localities of the state.

Some have decided not to participate in International and National sports competition. Why such politics in sports? Will Monika get justice with their decision of boycotting the competition? Who are the losers? It is not India which will lose; rather it is the players whose dream of becoming an International player that has been at the receiving ends.

Instead of boycotting the national championships and National Games, every player from Manipur should support Monika. They should wear a black badge as a sign of protesting the corrupt sports officials in India. Play well and achieve victory. Keep on protesting till Monika get justice.

There is no way a Manipuri player can participate in any International championship representing as a separate region. It is correct to record that Indian sports are dominated almost by Manipuri players. But not at the International level.

Except Mary Kom the Women Boxer, none of the state player has record breaking performances. Most of them are one time lucky who cannot repeat their performances better in their next participations. Manipur sports policy should be reformed before considering of a separate team in any international championship.

The Monika issue is so burning and agitating in the state of Manipur, there were no welcome celebrations for two state Olympians Laishram Bombayla Devi and Khumukcham Tombi Devi. It is a great feat for the people of Manipur that out of the 57 players, two are from the state. There is no celebration for the recipient of Arjuna award winner for 2007, Khumukcham Tombi Devi too.

What will Monika do now? Will she keep on fighting the officials, or concentrate on her game as a true sportsmanship? She must practice harder and cautious enough to get rid of her enemy. There is no use of boycotting and running away from the game, she should prove her best.

If she thinks the Indian sports officials are doing injustice to her, think of playing for Manipur, representing some other nations. For instance, she can approach the New Zealand government organization for granting resident visa to talented people with sports at International level.

Alternatively, she can start training young players for future. She should never think of politics in games and sports. The primary goal of every player is to display better social values such as sportsmanship, on and off the court. Always remember the motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius."




* Mohen Naorem, Editor - The Manipur Times, writes to e-pao.net regularly. This article was first published in Imphal Free Press. The writer can be contacted at themanipurtimes(at)gmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on September 19, 2008.

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