Mumbai, Nov 19: Veteran boxer Sarita Devi, who is currently serving a provisional suspension, has found support from batting legend Sachin Tendulkar who has written a letter to the Sports Minister urging him to support her and ensure that her career is not terminated prematurely.
In a letter to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, dated November 15, the iconic batsman said he is disconcerted by the reports that Devi faces a potential ban threatening her career.
"I would urge you to kindly look into this issue urgently and ensure that she is given competent support so that her career is not threatened and ends in a premature manner," Tendulkar wrote.
Devi lost in the semi-finals of the women's lightweight (60kg) competition at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in September, and tried to give her medal to her opponent at the presentation ceremony as a protest. Devi, upset with the controversial decision, refused to bend down to let the medal be placed over her neck.
She then took the medal and slipped it onto the neck of Park Ji-Na, who had been declared the winner of their semifinal bout. The South Korean boxer, an eventual silver medalist, tried to give the bronze medal back to Devi, then left it on the podium. Tendulkar said being a sportsman he could relate to Devi's emotional turmoil.
"As a fellow sportsperson, I can relate to the emotional turmoil which Ms. Devi must have undergone leading to the unfortunate outburst. Subsequently, she has regretted and deserves another chance to continue her pursuits," the 41-year old wrote.
'Ensure that Ms. Devi is pardoned'
Tendulkar said the Manipuri boxer should be allowed to compete at the highest level since she had already apologised for her behaviour.
"As you may be aware, she has already apologised for her unsportsmanlike behaviour. As a country, we should make every effort to ensure that Ms. Devi is pardoned and allowed to pursue her boxing skills at the highest level," he said.
Tendulkar requested Sonowal to consider forming a task force of senior officials from the Indian Olympic Association and the Boxing Federation and defend her case in front of the governing body AIBA.
"With limited knowledge on the ongoing process, I would sincerely request to consider forming a task force of senior officials from the Indian Olympic Association, the Indian Boxing Federation backed with strong legal minds under your stewardship.
"The objective of this task force should be to deter any potential move by the Governing body to cause irreversible harm to Ms. Devis's career by placing compelling arguments in her defence. This is critical as Ms. Devi belongs to a set of passionate sportspersons who have taken immense pride in representing the country and deserve all the support and backing from various stakeholders including Government of India," he wrote.
Tendulkar urged the Minister to take the necessary actions. "I am sure you will look into this matter and take due actions in a prompt manner."