SAI blames AFI for sending overage players to Nanjing

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) The Sports Authority of India (SAI) Monday blamed the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) after 18 overage athletes were sent back home from the second Asian Youth Games in Nanjing, China.

SAI director general Jiji Thomson told IANS that the whole selection process was flawed.

"The whole selection process was flawed. They should have been aware of the tournament rules. If we try to intervene too much in the selection process then we will be seen as as the big brother infringing on their autonomy," Thomson told IANS.

Thomson was surprised that overage players were selected despite a proper trial by the AFI.

"I am surprised that this took place despite proper selection trials in Thiruvanthapuram by the AFI," Thomson added.

While the Asian Youth Games had set the age criteria as for those born between 1997 to 1999 (i.e. 14 to 16 years of age in 2013), AFI went by International Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules according to which post 1996-born players were eligible.

AFI officials were not available for comments.

The 18 athletes were part of the 27-member Indian athletics squad. They were told to pack and fly back without competing, leaving the squad severely depleted in important disciplines.

This comes two days after four Indian badminton players found that their names were not sent by the Badminton Federation of India (BFI) for their respective events.

The Indian athletes are participating in the event as "Independent Olympic Athletes" as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is under suspension.

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