NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indian boxer Sarita Devi was Wednesday banned for one year by the sport’s world governing body for refusing to accept her bronze medal at the Asian Games in protest against judging decisions, an official said.
Devi has been ordered to sit out of competitions until October 2015 and pay a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,038) by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the official added.
The year-long ban, however, still leaves her eligible to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
India’s long-time Cuban coach B.I. Fernandez was handed a two-year ban and fined 2,000 Swiss francs for supporting Devi during her protest, Boxing India chief Sandeep Jajodia said, quoting an AIBA decision.
“There was apprehension that Sarita would be banned for life but Boxing India worked to get relief for her, trying to impress on AIBA that Sarita is disciplined,” Jajodia told reporters in New Delhi.
“The one-off incident was an emotional outburst. But we have to appreciate that the international body works under some rules.
“I spoke to Sarita and she is very relieved. We expected a longer ban.”
Devi, 29, who controversially lost after appearing to dominate her lightweight (60kg) Asiad semi-final bout against South Korean boxer Park Ji-Na in Incheon, tearfully refused to accept the bronze during the medal ceremony.
The contentious defeat a day earlier had sparked ugly scenes and scuffles as Devi’s enraged husband tried to lead a protest, resulting in him launching an expletive-filled rant at officials.
At the podium ceremony, Devi twice refused the medal before hanging it around the neck of her stunned Korean opponent who took silver. Devi later issued an “unconditional apology” to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) for her behaviour.
There were protests over a number of judging decisions in favour of home boxers during the Games, which were held in the South Korean city in September-October.
Mongolian and Filipino boxers also suffered controversial defeats prompting calls from their delegation officials for a review of the scoring system.
The Incheon organising committee complained about Devi’s behaviour at the time but also said it had written to AIBA calling on the governing body to “ensure fair play in competition”.
Devi accepted the Asiad bronze medal last week, given to her by the Indian Olympic Association.