Umakant Sharma banned for 10 years
New Delhi, Dec. 27 (PTI): In one of the harshest punishments to a chess player, the All India Chess Federation has banned Umakant Sharma of Southern Railway for 10 years for cheating during a FIDE rating tournament at Delhi early this month.
The AICF at its Central Council meeting at Chennai yesterday decided to ban Umakant, the second seed at the Air Marshal Subroto tournament, for being caught with a blue tooth device hidden in his cap.
AICF Treasurer and Delhi Chess Association President Bharat Singh Chauhan, who exhibited the cap and device at the meeting, said the decision was taken after a long deliberation on the pros and cons of the nature of the offence and the punishment, besides the complete record of the player, who climbed from ELO ratings 1989 to around 2480 in only the last six months.
"The matter was discussed at length at the meeting and it was decided that such acts were not welcome in chess," Chauhan told PTI.
"The Council also checked Umakant's complete record, including his games and even financial background and was surprised to learn that he had expensive mobile set despite being unemployed," he said.
"It is only recently that he got a job with the Southern Railways in Chennai," he said.
"His games were also studied and he was not an extraordinary player who could have naturally gained heavily in ratings in such short duration," he said.
Asked why Umakant was imposed on such a harsh ban because even bigger offences like that of doping and match-fixing did not invite such a long suspension, Chauhan said "in all those matters big people and big money was involved and that may be the reason why things were different. But in our sport, such a thing is absolutely unwelcome," he said.
AICF Secretary D V Sunder also firmly justified the decision.
"We wanted to be frank and send a stern message to all the players. It is like cheating in exams," he said.
"Other players were also unhappy with Umakant and agitating but we decided to first see the evidence and then take decision. We should have taken the decision immediately after he was caught," he said.
Sunder said there was no need to hear Umakant because many things were inexplicable like "why should he hide the blue tooth in his monkey cap and then stitch it?".
"For us the tournament is very important as it's on the name of the such respected person. We cannot tolerate such an offence," he said.