HYDERABAD: The colourful career of Jwala Gutta is at the crossroads.
Taking a serious view of her behaviour on August 25, when she was accused of delaying the Indian Badminton League (IBL) match between Krrish Delhi Smashers and Banga Beats for about 30 minutes, the disciplinary committee of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has recommended a life ban on the ace shuttler.
Jwala and her teammates were agitated after Beats were allowed to make a last-minute replacement. Beats replaced their injured Hong Kong player Hu Yun with Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark. After an animated discussion in front of thousands of fans, Beats agreed not to field Jorgensen that day.
Match referee Girish Natu blamed it on Jwala and in his report accused the World Cup bronze medal winner of resorting to long, and at times offensive, arguments with the governing council members. Even the broadcasters threatened to pull out of the league as their schedule went haywire.
On the basis of Natu's report, BAI issued a show cause notice to Jwala in the first week of September and gave her 14 days time to reply. TOI had reported on September 26 that Jwala was facing severe action as she did not show any remorse in her reply to BAI. In fact, she blamed the IBL governing council for the delay.
The disciplinary committee submitted its report to BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta suggesting that Jwala should be banned for life from international tournaments and for six years at the domestic level. The ball is now in the president's court.
When contacted, Akhilesh Das told TOI that the committee has taken a serious view of Jwala's behaviour and recommended serious action. "What she did was unacceptable. Her action could have finished IBL forever. She brought so much disrepute to the game and BAI," he said, adding that Jwala expressed no regret for her actions.
"In her explanation to the show cause, she blamed IBL and BAI for the whole episode. It is time we took some serious action. But I still want to give her one last chance. I will wait for seven more days. If she makes an unconditional apology we will consider her case," he added.
Asked if Jwala could be pardoned, the president said it depends on her apology. "If she apologizes sincerely we will forgive her. It all depends on her apology. But once we take action, we won't revoke it."
S Muralidharan, chairman of BAI's disciplinary committee, told PTI that Jwala said written in her reply that it was not an individual mover by her. "Jwala had replied to the notice, saying 'it was a decision by the Delhi franchise and not an individual move. Owners asked me to act like that and there is nothing wrong on my part. I have been appointed as an icon player by Delhi and I acted as a captain'," Muralidharan said, quoting from Jwala's reply.
While Jwala refused to comment on this issue, a former international shuttler said he was surprised at the recommendation of the disciplinary committee. "Life ban is for severe crimes, not such small issues. I think the president will take the right decision as she was a player who brought so much honour to the country," the shuttler said.