The All India Inter University Games (Swimming) were conducted at the Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Punjab from 1st to 4th November 2019.
The ignominy starts before the games begin. Almost every University forced the swimmers to participate in the University Games just because the authorities wanted them to do so, most importantly, against the wish of the players.
On 31st October, no player was clearly told the timings of the heats of each event and no instruction was clearly given. LPU claims that the number of participants was around 1000 but the premises had hardly 300-400 swimmers.
With delay in the timings, heats began on 1st November where almost every swimmer of the LPU had an early start or cheated in one or the other way. Yet, no swimmer was disqualified. This continued to be the case in each event. The only event where they couldn’t turn the tables was 50m backstroke.
The participants often went to the officials and complained about the results and asked about the justification of the cheating done. The authorities replied that actions have been taken and the officials who gave wrong decisions have been removed from their position. But what they did was just telling a falsehood. Their words were not followed by actions.
The one result LPU had to turn on the real side was in the 50m butterfly. Sahil Chopra of LPU clearly made a false start but was not disqualified. Despite the early start, Mihir Ambre of Maharashtra overtook him in the race and won the race. To everyone’s surprise, Sahil was declared as the winner with the timing of 24.32 seconds. Mihir was given the 2nd place with the time of 24.40 seconds.
Even with the naked eye, it was clearly visible that the race was won by Mihir, but cheating and manipulating was the sole aim of the officials. Sahil had false starts in the heats as well but no official took efforts to disqualify it. The real timings were: Mihir – 24.32 seconds and Sahil – 24.40 seconds
Speaking with SportsBeatsIndia Mihir Ambre said “The false start and the manipulation of results was already decided and planned well in advance.”
In one of the events, Mihir had qualified for the finals with a clear margin but again with the help of manipulation LPU placed their swimmer in the final list and had removed Mihir. The player who was placed in the list came to Mihir and asked him,
“Bhaiya, aap tairne waale ho yaa nahi? Kyonki in logonne mera naam daal diya hai list mai!”
At that moment, Mihir and the other swimmers decided that they won’t participate in the remaining events and will strongly oppose and protest to what was going on.
All the players who stood besides Mihir had faced the same situation. Most of them have represented India.
These are the players who put a word against the situation:
- Likith SP
- Srihari Natraj
- Prithvi M
- S Siva
- Rahul M
- Heer Shah
- Manav Dileep
After complaining about the multiple early starts of Sahil Chopra to the officials, one of them of the University said,
“Sahil will make early starts; we will manipulate the results, Jo ukhadna hai, ukhad lo”
“All these things are clearly against the spirit of the game and against the ethics of the sport.” – Mihir Ambre
The pool where the games where held was under construction. It did not have proper blocks, touch pads and authentic officials which are the basic needs according to FINA. None of the expectations were met.
Players had to look into the matter of officials, the time management and the fair play which is actually not the job of swimmers. This is to be done by the organizing committee. This University Games was nothing but total shame.
These games faced harsh opprobrium from the players who were participating as well other sports persons. Olympian Virdhawal Khade retweeted what one of the swimmers wrote. The Sports Minister of India Kiren Rijiju was tagged in the tweet. Rijiju retweeted it twice and gave the word that he will definitely look into the matter.
Mihir also stated that he was often told by his seniors that whenever Chandigarh and Punjab were the host states, cheating and manipulation comes along the guideline. All these things shouldn’t happen at a National Level Event.
What’s positive is that the players are with the sport. They all are working hard for the betterment of Indian Swimming and none support such cheating and manipulation. All swimmers expect that this won’t happen ever again in the University Games or anywhere else.