IBL row: Now Thomas and Rupesh are up in arms

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) India's top men's doubles players K.T. Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas now say they, too, have been shortchanged by the organisers of the Indian Badminton League (IBL), and have threatened to pull out of the inaugural league.

Rupesh and Thomas Thursday told IANS that like Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, their base price also was slashed without their knowledge, and they are so upset that they are wondering whether they should play in the IBL after the way they have been treated.

In the player's information kit and the form which the duo signed, a base price of $15,000 was put. However, at the auction, the two were sold to Pune Pistons for a base price of $5,000 each here Monday.

"The agreement form we signed way back in May had mentioned $15,000 as my base price. Now I find I have been sold to Pune for a base price of $5,000. We were not informed about the change in our base price," Thomas told IANS from Kochi Thursday.

A clause in the player's agreement form regarding the base price for Indians says: "Indian senior internationals (World Championship, Thomas Cup, Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, CWG, Asian Games) get equivalent to $15,000."

"We have been representing India for the last 10 years and have played at the World Championships, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. After representing the country and winning medals and tournaments if this is how we are treated, then I do not know what to say. If we had qualified for the higher category, we should have been auctioned at that price," said Thomas.

Thomas's partner Rupesh also echoed similar views, saying he feels cheated.

"On May 30, we sent the consent form where we indicated that we qualify for the $15,000 bracket going by the prospectus in the information kit. Now, suddenly after the auction I get to know that I was sold to Pune Pistons for a base price of $5,000. I feel cheated as we were not taken into confidence," Rupesh told IANS from Kochi.

"There has been no communication from them and we got to know after it came out in the news. Now we don't feel like playing. If the organisers do not review our case, I am afraid we may have to think of pulling out," he added.

Rupesh and Thomas have also won the national championships for a record seven years from 2004 to 2010.

"It is just hard to digest the way we have been treated. And suddenly we see other juniors bagging better deals than us. I am not against them getting the money, but we should be given the respect we deserve," the 33-year-old said.

"We are not mere district or state level players. We have been the top doubles players of the country and have won several tournaments. And it is not really about the money, it is about respect. The organisers have contacted us to sign the contract but now I am unsure," he added.

Rupesh also said he was in full agreement with Jwala and Ashwini whose base prices were also reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 Monday.

"This is just senseless. It is ridiculous to treat our Icon Players with such scant respect. You can't be changing after committing, and it hurts the players' pride," he added.

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