Sarita, who will be out of action until October 2015, has also been slapped with a fine of 1000 Swiss francs (Rs 66,000) by AIBA. However, in what is a huge setback for Indian boxing, the Indian team’s Cuban coach BI Fernandez has been banned for two years by AIBA and fined 2000 Swiss francs (Rs 132,000) for supporting Devi during her protest, Boxing India chief Sandeep Jajodia told the media on Wednesday. Fernandez is seen as the key man behind India’s resurgence in world boxing in the last decade and more.
Sarita’s personal coach Lenin Meitei has also been suspended for a year but chief coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu and Sagar Mal Dhayal were let off without any punishment. Taking the ban in her stride, Sarita, the Commonwealth Games silver medalist, said she was confident that AIBA would give her an opportunity to prove herself.
“I had a strong belief that AIBA would give me a chance and I am happy with their decision. One year will fly by very quickly. My aim is to win a medal in Rio Olympics and I am happy that I will be able to work towards it,” Sarita, who is nursing a fractured wrist, told TOI on Wednesday.
The lightweight boxer said she is not worried about being branded an undisciplined boxer. “I have always maintained good discipline in my career. The country has stood by me in a tough time and I know one good win will make everyone forget this episode. I just have to perform. I am focused and won’t let it go,” Sarita reassured.
The Manipuri boxer plans to make the most of the ban by focusing on her game. “I have been given an opportunity to focus on my game without any pressure. I plan to utilize this phase to work on my weaknesses by doing video analysis of my previous matches and that of my future opponents. For now, I am working on physical fitness and will begin proper training after recovering from wrist injury (by February),” she said. Sarita’s husband Thoiba Singh has been prohibited from entering a boxing venue during events for a period of two years.
“There were a lot of apprehensions that Sarita would get a life ban, especially after AIBA president CK Wu said that there would be zero tolerance. We tried to impress upon AIBA that this incident was an on-the-spot emotional outburst. But we have to appreciate that the international body works under some rules,” Jajodia said.