“A word of apology from G. Jwala would have ended this issue, but I am surprised at the turn of events. I never expected it to snowball into such a controversy.”
These words from S. Muralidharan, Chairman of BAI’s six-member disciplinary committee, reflect the mindset of the sport’s governing body.
Muralidharan, also a BAI vice-president and member of the Indian Badminton League’s governing council, had signed the recommendation of a life-ban, or a six-year suspension after observing “The misdeeds of Ms. Jwala are of such disastrous consequences deserving exemplary punishment that such instances are never repeated by anyone in the game.”
Such a strong indictment of Jwala was based on her response to the show-cause notice following a delayed IBL match between Delhi Smashers and Banga Beats. Jwala, captain of Delhi Smashers, pointed out “gross violation” of IBL rules before the start of the match. Thereafter, deliberations involving all concerned followed and the match began 30 minutes late after Banga Beats was made to replace Jan O Jergensen with Arvind Bhat in the second singles. While Jwala gave a detailed account of what transpired on August 25 leading to the delay, the disciplinary committee felt “the offending player (Jwala), instead of replying to specific allegations levelled against her, has been attempting to skirt the issue.”
BAI’s image tarnished
Muralidharan, known to be a mild-mannered man, explained his strongly-worded reasoning behind proposing the life ban. “The image of BAI had been tarnished by the delay. Further delay of half-an-hour would have ended IBL forever. The restless spectators (in Bangalore) would have entered the arena in protest. Official broadcasters (ESPN-STAR Sports) threatened not to cover badminton any more. Can you imagine the loss of face for India in the badminton world?”
But how did the disciplinary committee members agree on a life-ban for the charges levelled against Jwala?
“The committee members did not meet at one place. We exchanged emails and our views on the issue before arriving at the recommendation,” said Muralidharan, and continued, “Everyone understands that BAI has no intention of banning Jwala for life. The committee expected her to be apologetic (in her response to the show-cause notice). Had she apologised to the BAI president for her action, he could have pardoned her and the matter would have ended there. It (recommendation of life ban) is to discipline Jwala and make her feel apologetic for her actions.” Looking ahead, Muralidharan said, “Now with the formation of the three-member committee to hear Jwala’s response (to the proposed life ban), I have no role in the matter. But let me say, I have nothing personal against Jwala.”
This article has been edited to incorporate the following correction:
In the report, A word of apology from Jwala would have ended this issue (Sport, Oct. 10, 2013), the reference to a six-month suspension is incorrect. It should have been a six-year suspension.