Vikas thrown out of Olympics after review of bout

London: India`s hopes in Olympics men`s boxing event suffered a big blow when medal contender Vikas Krishan was controversially ousted today from the 69kg competition after the governing body of the game AIBA overturned the result of his pre-quarterfinal bout, that he had won, following a review.

The 20-year-old had won 13-11 over American Errol Spence in a thrilling contest last night, but following an appeal by his rival`s team management, AIBA awarded the bout 15-13 to the American.

However, crying foul over AIBA`s decision the Indians have appealed against it after an emergency meeting of the boxing team with Chef-de-Mission and Indian Boxing Federation Secretary General P K Muralidharan Raja. The result of the appeal would be known later.

The controversial decision to make Krishan, a gold medal winner at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou in 60kg, marred an otherwise quiet day for the Indians whose lukewarm challenge in men`s rowing ended without a whimper and woman distance runner Sudha Singh faded away in the 3000m steeplechase as she failed to qualify for the finals.

The rowing duo of Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh ended up a poor second from last in the men`s double sculls race at the Eton Dorney Rowing centre.

They avoided the wooden spoon by edging out the Egyptian team of Mohamed Nofel and Omar Emira in the 2000m race for minor placings, clocking 7 minutes, 8.39 seconds.

Steeplechase runner Sudha, also a gold medal winner like Vikas at the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad, failed to match the time that she had clocked to make the "B" grade qualification standard for the Olympics, finishing 13th out of 15 runners in the first of three semi-final heats.

The Central Railway employee hailing from Rae Bareily timed 9:48.86s in the race, almost a second off her national record of 9:47.70s that she had clocked in Spain on June 8 when making the Olympic grade.

However, bringing cheers from the athletics arena was Commonwealth Games champion Krishna Poonia who qualified for the women`s discus throw final round while teammate Seema Antil missed out by a whisker.

Poonia, thus, became only the sixth Indian to make it to the final round of track and field events in Olympics after Milkha Singh, P T Usha, S Sriram, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa and Anju Bobby George.

Poonia finished eighth in the qualification round while Antil ended at 13th at the showpiece Olympic Stadium. Those who touched the qualification mark of 63.00m or the best 12 make it to the final round to be held later today.

Poonia began with a foul throw but regained her composure to hurl the one-kg discus to 63.54m to finish fifth in Group A and eighth overall.

Antil had a best effort of 61.91m, which she came up in her third and final throw, to finish 13th and missed the final round.

In the morning, the Vikas Krishan incident was the sour talking point as his exit has reduced India`s boxing hopes to three from the original seven in the Games.

"There were a total of nine (9) holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round alone. However the referee only gave one caution," the AIBA said in a statement after a review of Kishan`s bout by its Competition Jury.

"In the second round, at the time 02:38, the boxer from India spitted out his gumshield intentionally. However the referee didn`t give any warning," it added.

Based on these "findings", the jury members "unanimously" decided to award Spence four points, thereby making him the winner.

"…at least four points should have been awarded to the boxer from the USA. Therefore the final score should be 13:15 in favour of the USA. The protest is accepted and the winner of Bout 142 is Errol Spence (USA)," the AIBA statement added.

While agreeing that Vikas had gone into a clinch with his rival, the Indians have claimed that the American was equally guilty of the same offence.

National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said the Indians will challenge the observations made by the competition jury, which felt that Vikas should have been penalised four points for holding his rival nine times and deliberately spitting out his gumshield during the bout.

"…our guy did not hold Spence for more than seven times. The American was guilty of holding Vikas four times according to us. As for spitting the gumshield, that may or may not be considered because the referee had failed to spot it during the bout," Sandhu told PTI.

Asked about the chances of India`s counter-appeal getting any favourable result, Sandhu said, "I can`t say for sure what will happen but we will ensure that our version is also taken into account."

Vikas, only the second Indian boxer after Vijender to fetch a bronze medal in the World Championship, was among the biggest medal prospects for the country.

Earlier, India had been at the wrong end of the AIBA review system when the country`s appeal against the close opening round loss of Sumit Sangwan (81kg) was rejected by the world body`s competition jury.