Indian riders barred from Asian Games
The Indian equestrian team has not made it to Guangzhou for the Asian Games and nobody in the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) is willing to comment as to who is responsible for this mess.As Mail Today has been reporting since last month, the EFI never followed proper quarantine protocol, as a result of which two horses were removed. The first belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Pattu and the second to Sunil Kumar.The EFI’s version was that Pattu’s horse was sick and Sunil’s horse tested positive for dope. After that, it was all chaos as the whole selection process came under scrutiny. However, with the EFI sticking to their claim that they had a transparent selection process and all the remaining horses were safe in quarantine, they managed to get the clearance from the Indian Olympic Association and the sports ministry for the Asian Games.On Friday, it came to light that the dressage and three-day eventing teams were still stuck in India. On Wednesday, the horses were taken to the Bangalore airport from the quarantine stable. However, the Chinese authorities informed the EFI that as it was “too late” for the dressage horses to enter Guangzhou, they leave the horses behind. Apparently, the message was that only eventing horses would be allowed to fly to Guangzhou. Given the heartburn and jealousy among the riders, an unofficial decision was taken not to send any team to the Asian Games.While the EFI can now blame the Chinese authorities for this mess, the truth is the Chinese veterinary doctors who had come to India were never going to clear the horses that easily. As Mail Today had written time and again, the quarantine and blood testing procedures on the horses were under the Chinese scanner. Apparently, the Chinese vets were not willing to go by results of blood tests ostensibly conducted at a lab in Hissar. The latest one hears is that the riders in India have been told not to talk to the media.advertisementIt is now up to the sports ministry to investigate how this mess happened. As the EFI had made statements that “all is well” why were horses not allowed to fly out of Bangalore on three occasions within a week? People in the equestrian fraternity in India say that the EFI is solely responsible for the situation. In the past, riders and horses would reach the host city almost a fortnight in advance.It is learnt that Kapilesh Bhate, a show jumping rider, will be the sole Indian representative in Guangzhou. Sources say he will be allowed to compete as his horse was in quarantine in Germany. One should not be surprised if EFI secretary SS Ahlawat makes it to Guangzhou as the manager, even if only one rider ends up representing India at the Asian Games! For the record, in the last edition of the Asian Games, India won a team bronze in the threeday event.