Sumariwalla hits out at Africans representing Asians

Adille Sumariwalla

Using strong words to condemn the practice of African runners competing for cash in the colours of Arab countries in the Asian Games, Athletics Federation of India chief Adille Sumariwalla termed it as "human trafficking" which, he said, was unlikely to happen in future.

"I wear two hats and there are two ways of looking at it. My strong view is that the athletes are bought, used and thrown out by the Arab countries. What they are doing is completely wrong," said Sumariwalla at a media interaction organised by the Sports Journalists' Association of Mumbai on Wednesday.

Sumariwalla, also a council member of the world athletics body IAAF, also said the African runners did not qualify properly to represent their adopted Arab countries. "They are not given citizenship, they are given only residency, given fake passports, on the basis of which they are participating and once they finish they are thrown out; that's human trafficking. I am opposed to human trafficking and have done it tooth and nail in IAAF (meetings)," said the former 11-time national sprint champion.

He said the future looked bleak for those countries in trying to adopt the same methods. "I have got that waiting period increased to three years. They need to be given full citizenship and in places like Qatar the (country's) constitution does not allow that. Either they have to change the constitution or figure out how to include them," he added.

However, Sumariwalla said that the AFI has already advised the Indian athletes, who could have won eight more gold medals but for Africans running under the garb of Arabs, to look ahead and compete at a higher level where the same Africans will be there representing their own continent.

"In the Asian Games we won eight silvers and lost eight gold medals (to Africans). But having said that while explaining to athletes I told them we are done with the Asian Games and we should be able to fight with Africans at all levels. The next stop is the world level, so be there."

Sumariwalla said he had some reservations about the government's TOPS scheme because of the manner of selection. "I have huge reservations on the way the selection is done. If it's a relay team three are selected and two others are not. It's a team. Imagine a hockey team in which eight are there and three are not (in TOPS)," he explained.

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Sumariwalla hits out at Africans representing Asians

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