Sports Ministry directs federations to ban age frauds

"In the event of conclusive proof that an athlete has committed age fraud, he or she should be banned from participating in any sporting event for a period of two years on the first detection and for five years on any subsequent detection," the Ministry said in an advisory to the Indian Olympic Association, all National and State Sports Federations and Director General of Sports Authority of India.

The Ministry said a detailed policy to deal with the age fraud would be formulated soon.
"In order to prevent age fraud in sports and ensure fair play, pending formulation of a National Code against age fraud in Sports, the Government has issued detailed guidelines to all sports Federations/associations/bodies to ensure that overage players are not allowed to participate in national and other championships," the Ministry said in its statement.
The Ministry said age fraud is as big an offence as doping and the federations should deal with it with the same strictness with they deal with drug cheats.

"The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in its communication sent to the President/Secretary General of IOA and all National and State Sports Federations and Director General of SAI has advised them to treat age fraud on the same lines as anti–doping measures as both amount to cheating and violates basic spirit of sport," it said.
"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," it added.

Elaborating its guidelines on the matter, the Ministry said the federations should issue identity cards to all the national-level athletes, which should mention their age after proper verification. The Ministry said these identity cards would be mandatory for participation in national and state competitions from February next year.

"National Sports Federations should introduce a system of issuing identity cards to national athletes, which should inter-alia contain name, photograph, signature and date of birth of the player, date of issue of the identity card and its validity period", the statement said.

"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 has fully satisfied itself about the age of player," it said.
Besides, the Ministry said it was the federation's responsibility to maintain age records of the athletes to prevent any forgery.
"The Federation 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", it said.
The Ministry said all federations should conduct random age verification at regular intervals on the basis of the records maintained by it.
"The 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."
"The medical tests relating to age verification and medical procedures adopted for this purpose should be duly notified by the Federation and made known to all athletes," the Ministry stated.
The Ministry said any athlete wanting to challenge his or her adverse age finding should be given a proper hearing by the federations, which should bear the cost of a re-test.
"If an athlete contests the findings of the medical test in question, it would be incumbent upon the Federation to arrange for an re-examination, preferably at a reputed Government hospital," it said.

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