One athlete posted a picture flashing a finger and another uploaded one like a convict, with a slate hanging in front of his chest. Some pictures were from weddings in bright sherwanis or in dimly-lit restaurants and grassy parks. And one athlete, with some nifty editing, even wove in the London Eye into the background.
These were among the photographs the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) received after the apex body that manages athletics made online registration mandatory for entry in competitions last month. They had expected the government-preferred passport or formal photographs, but what they got were chiselled torsos and tattooed bodies, spikes, and fancy hairdos.
In the end, the AFI provisionally rejected around one-fourth of the 3,000 applications it received. The reason stated: “Pictures weren’t appropriate for official purposes.”
“We had to reject hundreds of applicants for inappropriate pictures. All we sought was a simple passport picture for our registration and we received all kinds of colourful and weird pictures,” said AFI communications manager, Divesh Bhal.
“In some pictures, the athletes’ faces were not visible even. How do they expect us to verify them? I want to humbly request all the athletes to send us proper passport pictures so that they get the id numbers quickly.”
Following are some of the pictures rejected by AFI:
Although most rejected applications were from younger athletes, a few seasoned ones faltered too. Shotputter Inderjeet Singh, an Asian Games medallist, and Sarita Gayakwad, an Asiad gold medallist, were among those whose applications were provisionally rejected. According to the process, they will have to resend their applications with a proper passport picture.“We were told that a unique identification number is mandatory for the coming Inter-state meet in Lucknow. I got it in a couple of days. But there are many fellow athletes who were told they have to send proper passport pictures,” said middle-distance national runner Beant Singh.
All athletes whose forms are temporarily rejected are sent automated intimation via email with the contact details of the officer in charge. Once the athlete gets in touch with the official, the exact reason for rejection is spelt out. Apart from poor pictures, incomplete address and age proof documents are other causes for which entries were rejected.
Last month, after re-launching its website, the AFI made it mandatory for all athletes to register on their portal and avail a unique identification number. The national body believes this will reduce duplicity and bring uniformity to the process.
“Earlier, the state federations would have to upload fresh forms before each competition. They had complained about the tedious process,” said an official helming the project.
“We are the first national sports federation to develop such a system. Now, all they have to do is select players from our system. This will be the norm and no on-the-spot registrations will be entertained.”