Indian boxer L Sarita Devi’s refusal to accept her bronze medal on the podium went against the values of sportsmanship, Asian Games organisers said on Thursday, adding they were reviewing the incident and could take action against her.
Sarita refused to wear the medal when it was presented on Wednesday, taking it only in her hand before trying to drape it over the South Korean fighter who had beaten her the previous day.
When the presentation was over, she left the medal behind, despite being told by the organisers to take it with her.
“She needs to respect the official ruling and show sportsmanship. Her actions were not sportsman-like,” Son Cheon-taik, deputy secretary general of Incheon’s organising committee (IAGOC), said at a news conference on Thursday.
“The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is working on the review of the medal, whether or not to give it to her or confiscate it. So they are deciding what to do with it.”
Sarita had to settle for the bronze after losing her lightweight semi-final on Tuesday to local boxer Park Ji-na, who was declared a unanimous 3-0 winner.
But the result was disputed by India, who thought Sarita should have been declared the winner.
Her husband, Thoiba Singh, launched an expletive-laden tirade at the judges, according to Indian newspapers, before Sarita lodged a protest against the outcome, which was rejected, prompting more complaints from India.
“Although she was upset, she didn’t lodge an official complaint, so there is no official investigation,” said Son.
“However, if an athlete feels cheated, there needs to be an official letter to the judging committee, which I have begun working on. I have not yet sent this letter, so nothing is official.”
‘NO HOME ADVANTAGE’
After the incident, an International Boxing Association (AIBA) supervisor said the Indian team had not followed the proper rules regarding protests.
Her opponent, Park, said she did not quite know how to react on the podium.
“Devi hung her medal on me. I tried to give the medal back to her, but she didn’t want to take it,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to do, so someone told me to put that on the podium. I left the medal on the podium.”
The AIBA is to issue a decision regarding disciplinary procedures immediately after the Games, which end on Saturday.
“At every Games you see claims being made against judging decisions,” said Son.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t just claim to be fair but that we did our best to maintain the integrity of the Games.
“We introduced an academic programme and provided education and training to judges at the Games.
“We wanted to create an environment where those that are defeated accepted the result, and those that won could be graceful in victory.
“We tried to ensure there is no home advantage and we wanted to underline that this is an event for all Asians.”
The decision sparked a backlash in India, where several newspapers featured a crying Sarita on the front page, claiming she had been “robbed in the ring” by “biased” judges.
“The fact that all the three judges gave it to the Korean clearly shows the result of the bout was decided before the start,” India’s Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez told the Times of India newspaper.
“You can understand if such a thing happens in a close bout but this was totally one-sided and this is a poor advertisement for boxing.”