Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: India will play the preliminary rounds of the Uber Cup competition, starting at Jaipur on February 14, without the National champion Aparna Popat, who according to the Badminton Association of India, has "withdrawn'' on medical grounds.

L.C. Gupta, secretary of BAI, told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi that a fax had been received by BAI to this effect.

Aparna's decision not to play in the Uber Cup has come in controversial circumstances as the champion, who had won her record ninth title at Bangalore recently, failed to attend the preliminary camp at Jalandhar which has been on since January 18. According to BAI officials and the coaches at the camp, Aparna had intimated her non-availability, citing an injury to the playing wrist and had faxed the medical reports. She expressed her desire to participate in the camp only on January 27.

BAI claimed that the decision to include Aparna in the camp was then left to the chairman of the selection committee, V.K. Verma, president of BAI, and the coaches.

They unanimously decided that it would be difficult to accommodate a player, whatever his or her standing, either in the camp or in the team, if the concerned player fails to report for the camp.

BAI unfair: Aparna

Meanwhile, Aparna lambasted the BAI for going to the press on the issue without "even showing the courtesy to find out what had really happened.''

Aparna, who was back at the SAI (South) Centre here, after consulting a few doctors in Mumbai said: "Yes, I have withdrawn from the tournament. I am deeply hurt by BAI's stand on the issue. They have made out as if I am trying to dodge the Uber Cup event, but the fact was, I had played the senior Nationals with a wrist injury, which needed immediate treatment."

I went to Mumbai and consulted a few physicians there, and they had advised that that I needed immediate treatment and rest, and they also suggested that I could get back on court only around February 12. I had sent all these details and a letter to BAI, expressing my inability to attend the camp by January 19.

"But so far I have not received a single reply and BAI had chosen to talk only through the press. It had made claims that my whereabouts were not known and I had kept them in dark. They also doubted my form. It was ridiculous and you don't treat a senior player like that," said the distraught champion.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gupta has ruled out the possibility of having a replacement for Aparna. "Already there are nine players in the camp and all of them are in good nick, including Saina Nehwal, Trupthi Murgunde, Jwala Gutta, Shruti and Aditi Mutatkar. I don't think we are going to be affected in a big way," he said.

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