New Delhi, July 8: India's chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand today rubbished all the allegations levelled against him by Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, and insisted that the Indian women's doubles pair are getting all the support from BAI, SAI and the government.
After their recent win at the Canadian Open, Ashwini and Jwala had urged Gopichand to treat all badminton players equally or step down as the national coach, referring to their exclusion from the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, which funds potential medal-winners for the Rio Olympics.
Responding to the allegations, Gopichand said: "It is too often that they have been talking about this. I think they need to be specific about what their issues and problems are. This way blaming and pointing fingers without any basis and credit is just not done.
"It is unfortunate that these things have been happening. I think it is high time we put all this to rest and we should put together our effort in improving our levels.
"I think whatever tournament they have been playing, they have been supported by SAI, BAI (Badminton Association of India) and the government of India. We also have two separate coaching camps going on with Indonesian foreign coach and doubles specialist coaches being part of it. Whatever support they have asked for in the last few years have been done and they have played quite a few tournaments."
One of the top doubles specialist, Jwala has been voicing her displeasure over her exclusion from the TOP Scheme for the last few months. Ashwini, too, recently hit out at the Sports Ministry saying they are not getting the right advice over TOP scheme.
The criticism prompted the Sports Authority of India (SAI) director-general Injeti Srinivas to come out in support of Gopichand, saying that neither the national coach, SAI nor the ministry had discriminated against any player.
Asked about the TOP scheme issue, Gopichand told Times Now TV channel: "Top scheme has an identifying committee and it is not for me to say. There are others in the committee. Even SAI has spoken to the media about this issue. The fact is that their names were included in the TOP scheme and they are definitely getting all the support that they can get."
Gopichand said: "We have always done well in supporting the players and both these players, Jwala and Ashwini, are part of the coaching camp which is supported by BAI and SAI. We have a foreign coach in Bangalore and in addition to that we have asked for a Malaysian coach who will join in next couple of months, hopefully.
"Under the TOP scheme, it was said that as a joint program for singles, we will support singles players as a group. So four players were picked at that time. Similarly, doubles as a group will be supported in the TOP scheme. When we are calling a coach, it is natural that doubles players will be trained. I think we need to investigate further and they need to be specific that this is not done in the camp.
"You see, there are other doubles players such as Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy who reached the finals of a GPG, they didn't get their due credit, there is also Sikki Reddy and Pradnya Gadre, who did well at nationals. They are happy and comfortable with the support that they are receiving. It is unfortunate that people who shout are getting all the attention, which is unjust.
"It is high time we put it to rest, people need to concentrate on the job at hand."
Meanwhile, when BAI vice-president TPS Puri was asked about the issue, he said: "I don't want to get into the controversy. I think there has been a long demand for a doubles coach.
"Now we have been able to identify him and it has been approved by SAI and he will be shortly going us. He is a top coach and he will help the players not only for the Rio Games but also serve as a long term to built up the junior squad."