A couple of months ago, India’s rifle coach Stanislas Lapidus was staring down the barrel. The Kazakh was accused of sexual harassment by a few national shooters, forcing the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to order a probe. With the athletes’ commission yet to submit its final report, Lapidus decided to resign so ‘his family did not suffer’. Consequently, the year’s first World Cup in Bangkok, starting Wednesday, will be his last assignment with the national team.
Lapidus, however, is likely to continue with three top shooters and even be a part of the Indian contingent for the Rio Olympics later this year. It is learnt that Gagan Narang, Apurvi Chandela and Chain Singh, all of whom have won Olympic quotas, have expressed desire to hire him as their personal coach under the sport’s ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
Intriguingly, though, if the 64-year-old is allowed to stay on as a personal coach, he might end up getting paid more than his current salary. At present, the government pays him $7,000 a month. Under TOPS, he is likely to be paid around 700 euros per day collectively by the three shooters.
A senior Sports Authority of India (SAI) official said they are considering the trio’s request. However, to avoid any embarrassment, the SAI may take a final decision only after the athletes’ commission submits its report in a couple of weeks.
The official, however, said since there is no concrete evidence against him at the moment, they have no problem with him being appointed as a personal coach. “We have received a request from the shooters and we do not have any problem with that. In the end, it’s up to the athletes to choose who their personal coach should be. Moreover, we cannot stop him from coaching at the moment since the charges against him are not proved. If there’s any change in the status quo, then we will take a decision accordingly,” the SAI official said.
Lapidus has been the personal coach of Narang for close to five years and has been training and designing programmes for Apurvi and Chain for quite some time as well and has formed a close working relationship with them. During the 2012 Olympics, Lapidus, who was admitted to a London hospital with high fever, got himself an early discharge against the doctor’s wishes to be present for Narang’s event, eventually playing a crucial role in the marksman winning the bronze medal.
The shooters, it is learnt, are not too keen to make changes to their routine so close to the Olympics and hence decided to continue with Lapidus in a personal capacity. NRAI president Raninder Singh said they won’t have any problems with Lapidus accompanying them to the Olympics. “He has resigned and the athletes’ commission is yet to submit its report. It is up to SAI to decide whether to retain him as a personal coach and we really can’t stop a shooter if he wants him as a personal coach. We want the best for our guys, that is our priority,” Raninder said.
He added that the national team might not find Lapidus’ replacement right now. “We have very little time for the Olympics and it’s tough for us to find a suitable replacement in such a short notice. Moreover, all the top coaches are already employed with other teams so we don’t have many options,” Raninder said.