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Age Fraud in Sports- A Serious Concerning Matter

Age Fraud in Sports has turned out to be a serious matter as many players misrepresent their age in order to participate in a tournament due to lack of opportunities. Rahul Dravid too highlighted the matter recently.

Surbhi Khera
Last updated: 02.10.2019
Age Fraud in Sports is a serious concern | Sports Social Blog

It is said that “Age” is just a number and has nothing to do with the capabilities and skills one possess but it can turn out to be a matter of concern when rules and regulations comes on the track. When we connect age to sports, it becomes a matter of concern as recently there are a lot of issues reported of age fraud. Age fraud does injustice to not only to the rules and regulations but to the deserving candidates who are talented enough but the opportunities are snatched away from them.

Recently, Rahul Dravid highlighted the same issue and said, “Age fraud leads to an erosion of culture. It leads to a scenario where a lot of talented boys don’t get to play when they should actually be playing.” It is not only cricket that this kind of fraud is prevalent but in other sports as well. Rahul Dravid also called this fraud as bad as fixing a game.

Basically what is age fraud or fudging? When a player deliberately misrepresents his or her age in order to gain an advantage over opponents or take part in age-restricted competitions.

One of the most famous and recent age fudging cases was of Manjot Kalra, an Indian cricketer who played for India U-19 team. He was the Man of the Match in the Under-19 cricket World Cup final but a charge sheet was filed against him by Delhi Police that his birth date is 15th January 1998, not 1999 which meant that he was not eligible to be a part of India’s under-19 team. And not only him but other 11 cricketers were accused of the same offence.

Rasikh Salam Dar was bought by the Mumbai Indians in the player auction for the 2019 Indian Premier League. He became the third cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to be picked in IPL and at the age of 17, he became youngest player to make their debut for the Mumbai Indians.  But he was soon banned by BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) due to misrepresenting his age in his birth certificate. This decision was taken after a meeting took place in May and the minutes of the meeting were, “Players who are found to have submitted false/tempered birth certificates will be banned from all BCCI tournaments for two seasons. BCCI may also initiate criminal action against the concerned player and/or any other person responsible for submitting false/tempered birth certificates.”

During Khelo India Youth Games, there were numerous complaints of the age fraud. A weightlifter, whose real name has not been revealed, came up with his Aadhaar card that declared him to be eligible for under-17 category and the same person participated in another tournament few months ago which declared him above 17 years old. Another incident came up in the same tournament, when in registration line; around 5 to 6 boys and girls tried to use the Aadhaar trick in order to participate but got rejected. The main reason for such fraud was that everyone’s eye was on the scholarship which was worth Rs. 5 lakh.

In February 2019, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) disqualified Nisar Ahmed from running the 100m final in the National Youth Athletics Championships in Raipur for being over-age. Not only him, but other 41 athletes were disqualified in the same championships due to age fraud. Aditya Prakash (110m hurdles, 400m), Ashish Poonia (hammer throw), Manpreet Singh (Decathlon), Vijay Malik (High Jump) and Shyam Chaudhari (Discus Throw) were amongst these athletes.

Talking about the punishment for such frauds, Vimal Kumar, former India coach who also guided Saina Nehwal said, “Banning a player for 2-3 years is not right because suspending them will kill a talent.” In December last year, around 37 parents of budding shuttlers moved the Karnataka High Court to ask for a directive to BAI to implement a policy for detecting and eliminating age fraud from the sport.

Age fraud is not only prevalent in Indian sports but internationally as well. Around 16 players were banned by AFC in 2000 and eight were banned in the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship. In 2018, the Solomon Islands, which originally finished second in the 2018 OFC U-16 Championship, were found by the Oceania Football Confederation to have deliberately fielded overage player Chris Satu during the tournament and thus they forfeited their results.

Later, mandatory use of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was introduced in FIFA in 2009 which helped ascertain whether players are overage or not and were considered 99% accurate until age of 17.

It is a common problem and many state boards have been fighting with this eternal problem. Strict actions should be taken keeping in mind the talent and more opportunities should be provided to the players.

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