Recently, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced that it is making AADHAR card mandatory to prevent age fraud and interstate exodus of players using fake domicile (Indian Express, Aadhar card a must for wrestlers at national level tournaments, September 27).
Perhaps WFI is not aware that there is National Code Against Age Fraud in Sports (NCAAFS), notified by the government of India on 19thmarch 2010.The Code is equally applicable to all recognised National Sports Federations (NSFs) in the country. In a letter dated 14th march, 2016 annual recognition of WFI was renewed by ministry of youth affairs and sports.
Besides this, compliance with the code is also one of the criteria for recognition of National Sports Federation under scheme of assistance to National Sports Federation from ministry of youth affairs and sports. The code further states that the non‑ compliance with the minimum standards set forth in the Code will lead to suspension of NSF.
The reason for non‑compliance is that the government does not interfere with the affairs of the NSFs, which includes holding of sports events, selection of players, and age certification among other things. Here Sports Authority of India (SAI) is also at fault whose function is related to the governance and promotion of sports in India on behalf of the ministry of youth affairs and sports.
Age fraud is rampant in Indian sports. Killing fair play in the sport is as damaging as fixing in the sport. To tackle match fixing, doping, illegal betting, age fraud and the other corrupt practices in the sports, in 2014, Sports Integrity Unit (SIU) was set up by the Indian government under the aegis of its premier investigative agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In January 2015, in its first case, the unit investigated into the allegations of age fraud racket involving four tennis players from West Bengal. However, the investigation could not lead to a logical prosecution. This is because constitutional arrangement places sport in the jurisdiction of states in India (entry 33 of the seventh schedule, Constitution of India) and prior sanction is required from the relevant state authority to formally accuse the players.
Procedure contained in the code envisages medical examination of players/athletes involving physical examination, dental examination and radiological examination. The code also confers a duty on Sports Authority of India (SAI) to carry out the medical examination.
World over medical examination with scientific parameters is accepted practice to check age fraud. It is certainly fit then to ask why WFI is relying on Aadhar card which does not ascertain the biological age of a person.