Chandigarh: Insisting that it had not imposed a ban on Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Sunday said that by sidelining the duo, it was sending out a message that indiscipline will not be tolerated at any cost.
The AITA decided at its executive committee meeting that the two players, who refused to play with Leander Paes at the London Olympics, will not be considered till June 2014.
The Asian Games are scheduled to be held in South Korea in September 2014 and before that, neither of the two players could represent India.
It effectively ends the career of Bhupathi, who is already on the wrong side of the 30s.
"AITA is not in a position to impose ban on any player. It's a kind of disciplinary action to send across a message to players, who aspire to play for India that we will not tolerate this," AITA secretary general Bharat Oza said at a press conference.
Quizzed on the logic behind the punishment period, Oza could not give a satisfactory reply. "We do not have a code of conduct where it is mentioned that a player can be punished for so and so period. We are formulating it and will come up in two-three months. AITA has some rules and regulation which says that action can be taken against a player."
Asked about Paes preferring to play in a club instead of Davis Cup tie, Oza said the veteran player had requested to excuse him for the tie. "He was hurt and emotionally drained. He did not want to face media scrutiny so soon. We have to consider if a player is mentally and physically fit. We have to address all kind of issues. His request came if you can excuse me," Oza said.
The secretary general also said that the AITA does not apply different yardsticks when it comes to treating Paes, Bhupathi or Bopnna. "It's not different at all."
Somdev also made himself unavailable for the tie against New Zealand, citing fitness problems, but played at the US Open.
Asked how a player could be fit to play at one tournament and not for the country, Oza said because of "monetary benefit and ranking points issue, he had to play". "He is still not 100 per cent fit. So we gave him the benefit of doubt. We have to give player time to recover."
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