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Sports Authority axes coach, official for sexual harassment | More sports News

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NEW DELHI: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has received shocking complaints of sexual harassment from three of its regional centres, prompting it to sack one coach and order the compulsory retirement of an employee. An internal probe has been launched against another coach.

The dismissed coach was from SAI’s Tamil Nadu centre. About 15 junior athletes had sent a complaint in broken English to the SAI headquarters, alleging that the coach was seeking sexual favours from them. He had allegedly told the girls that a refusal would mean the end of their careers.

A similar complaint received from junior campers in Gujarat is under investigation. In another harassment case reported from SAI centre in Bengaluru, an accountant was found sending lewd text messages to a woman coach at the academy.

On learning about the spate of complaints, SAI director general Neelam Kapur dealt with the issue immediately. She fired the coach involved in the Tamil Nadu case within three months after he was indicted in an internal probe.

Upon learning that his trainees had complained about him, the coach threatening the girls over loudspeaker, asking them to reveal who all had written against him. The SAI probe found that the coach was a habitual offender and sacked him.

To “set a precedent for future cases and to send a strong message to coaches posted at other regional centres”, the SAI not only sacked the coach, but also ensured that he will not get his pension.

TOI is withholding the identities of the coach and trainees as well the location of the centres since the matter is related to junior campers. There are a total of 14,000 trainees (7,000 boys and 7,000 girls) across all SAI centres in India.

In the harassment case related to Gujarat, SAI is in the process of verifying the veracity of the complaint. Sources said the coach is likely to be sacked if the accusations against him are found to be true.

In the Bengaluru case against a SAI accountant, the DG launched an internal investigation and the accused was immediately asked to take compulsory retirement.

Kapur told TOI that her organisation will continue to act swiftly in such cases while underlining the need to revamp the entire coaching system. “We have taken strong action in these cases as we want the message to go down the system. These young girls were scared but showed the courage to write to us. There is a need to launch an awareness programme on harassment for which we, as an organisation, will be taking some important steps to ensure that a relationship between a coach and his/her trainee always remain healthy,” she said.

The DG said there will be a time-bound probe into any allegation of harassment and prompt action will be taken. “We will look at prevention through awareness campaigns where we will invite NGOs registered with the women and child development ministry to hold sessions for girl trainees. They will be made aware about sexual harassment and how to deal with it. The sessions will preferably be in local languages of the respective centres,” she said.

Kapur also said that the sports ministry is in the process of setting up a nationwide call centre whose officials will regularly call national campers at various centres to know about their progress as an athlete, the food, the facilities and the problems faced by them.

“It will be operational within a couple of months. Also, the girl trainees will be given numbers of the members of the ICC. These numbers will be prominently displayed on the notice board of all SAI centres,” she said.

Updated: June 5, 2018 — 9:01 pm

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