Sports ministry cracks the whip on age frauds

New Delhi, Nov 27 ( Stung by a series of allegations of age fudging in football and badminton, the sports ministry Friday issued strict guidelines to weed out the cheaters.

The ministry said that if athletes are found guilty, they should be banned for a period of two years and five years for subsequent detection.

Since the formulation of a National Code against Age Fraud in sports is pending, the government has issued detailed guidelines to the National Sports Federations (NSF) to ensure that over-age players are not allowed to participate in national and other championships if they are found guilty of fudging their age.

The ministry has asked all the NSFs, state associations and the SAI to treat age fraud on the same lines as doping as both amount to cheating and violate basic spirit of sport.

“In the recent past, incidents of age fraud committed by athletes, in some major tournaments and selection trials have come to the notice of the government, which is a matter of serious concern. In order to ensure fair play, it is imperative that stringent action is taken against athletes found guilty of committing age fraud and also against their abettors,” the government said in a statement.

The ministry said that the NSFs should introduce a system of issuing identity cards to national athletes and it should have all details, including the date of birth.

“The federations should lay down a clear policy with regard to submission of documents for the purpose of age verification such as birth certificates, passport, school certificate etc. The identity card containing the date of birth of the player should be issued only after the federation is fully satisfied about the age of player,” it said.

The ministry has now made it mandatory for all athletes to have identity cards with effect from Feb 2, 2010, for participation in national and state competitions.

The ministry also said that the federations should maintain an exhaustive and diligent record of the age along with proof of age of athletes, who have participated in the annual national championships and other tournaments conducted by it.

“Each federation shall be required to maintain a national register of athletes with state-wise details, which will be a public document. The federation should conduct random age verification at regular intervals on the basis of the records maintained by it,” the ministry said.

It also said that federation should resort to medical examination of an athlete whenever any doubt arises with regards the age of an athlete on account of his or her physical appearance, receipt of any complaint or any other valid ground, which should duly communicated to the athlete.