Indian paddler Manika Batra has opened a can of worms. The star paddler has alleged that national coach Soumyadeep Roy had asked her to fix a match during the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers in March.
Manika Batra was responding to the show-cause notice served to her by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). She said Soumyadeep Roy had asked her to lose a match to one of his students during the Olympic qualifiers.
The paddler added that it was the reason why she refused to take his services as a coach during her singles match at the Tokyo Olympics 2021.
Earlier, the TTFI had served a show-cause notice to Manika Batra, saying that she had brought disrepute to the game by refusing Soumyadeep Roy’s help.
In a response to TTFI secretary Arun Banerjee, Manika Batra said:
“Besides the need to avoid disturbance due to his last-minute intervention, there was an additional and much more serious reason behind my preference to play without the national coach. The national coach had pressurized me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for Olympics – in short – to indulge in match-fixing.”
Manika Batra armed with evidence
Manika Batra said she had all the evidence of Soumyadeep Roy asking her to purposefully lose a match. Batra said she would let the evidence out at the right time. She explained:
“I have evidence of this incident and I am ready to present it to the competent authorities at the appropriate time. To ask me to concede the match, the national coach personally met me in my hotel room and talked to me for nearly 20 minutes.”
“He tried to promote his own student using unethical means under the pretext of national interest. He was accompanied by his student who trains in the private academy not only run by, but also named after him.”
The star Indian paddler, ranked 56 in the world, did her duty by reporting the fixing approach to a TTFI official. Manika Batra added:
“From my side, I did not promise to oblige and promptly reported this matter to a TTFI official. I decided not to obey the unethical command of the national coach. But his intimidation and pressure had its effect on my mental frame and consequently my performance. During the Olympics, I wanted to keep away from the demoralizing effect of such a coach. As a player representing India, it was my duty to serve my country in the best possible way.”
TTFI secretary Arun Banerjee said Soumyadeep Roy has been asked to present his side of the story. He added the federation would decide on a future course of action after the coach’s response.
Incidentally, Soumyadeep Roy has been asked not to report to the national camp until the issue is resolved. Manika Batra, along with G Sathiyan, have asked for an exemption from the national camp in Sonepat. They prefer to train in their respective locations.