BAI to come up with stringent policy after Saina fiasco

Stung by Saina Nehwal's controversial exit from the Syed Modi India Grand Prix tournament, the Badminton Association of India has swung into action and is likely to come up with a stringent policy to avoid such a situation in future.

London Olympics bronze medallist, Saina courted controversy yesterday when she retired from her women's singles first round match, citing knee injury, when she was on the verge of winning.

It rubbed the BAI officials the wrong way and they are planning to come up with a stringent law in the near future. They will also be holding a meeting on December 23 to discuss the entire issue.

"We need to put some mechanism in place so that it doesn't happen again. We have to safeguard the interest of BAI as well as the players. The president will be here on December 22 and we will be discussing this issue in detail and come up with a policy after getting clearance from the commission," a senior BAI official said.

"After Senior Nationals, we had circulated a dos and don'ts list to the players but we have to make it more stringent so that such incident doesn't happen again.

"It is important to have a mechanism to ensure the fitness of players before considering them for tournament and also after they recover from injury, they would need to prove their match fitness," the official added.

Asked if any action would be taken against Saina, BAI vice-president, T P S Puri said: "It is a fact that Saina was carrying an injury and she was reluctant to participate in the Super Series Final as she was injured but she had to play because of BWF norms. So it could be a genuine case."

The 22-year-old Saina had reached match point (21-17, 20-18) against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova in her opening match yesterday when she decided to retire.

"Saina had sustained the injury during the Denmark Open in October and also struggled in the finals of the French Open. So she has been struggling for long and no player would want to aggravate an injury," Puri said.

According to some media reports, Saina had already booked her ticket for today as she didn't want to play beyond the first round.

Puri, however, denied the allegations, saying, "I don't think it would be right to make such an assumption. She came here straight from China. She attended the opening ceremony and decided to give it a shot but while playing she probably realised it might aggravate her injury."

Saina, who was the champion in the 2009 and 2010 editions of the championship, had skipped the last edition of the tournament, citing fatigue and also missed the Senior Nationals in Srinagar.

She was reluctant to take part in the event this time around as well, but according to the sources, changed her mind after being pressurised by officials.

Lucknow-based Sahara India Pariwar had signed the Indian ace as their brand ambassador just one day before the tournament got underway.

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