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Indian Winter Olympians divided over uniform issue

February 15, 2010 12:00 IST

Trouble is brewing in the Indian camp at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver with majority of the contingent denying luger Shiva Keshavan's claim that the team didn't have coordinated uniform for the opening ceremony and rejecting the money raised by the Indian diaspora.

Keshavan has alleged that the contingent did not have coordinated uniform, prompting the local Indian community to raise $8000 as fund for uniforms for the Indian athletes.

Chef-de-mission R K Gupta, however, dismissed the allegation and rejected the money, insisting that the team had uniforms provided by the ministry.

"Shiva thinks he is greater than India and is maligning the image of the country by claiming that the team didn't have coordinated uniform. He didn't speak to us regarding it. We didn't have a clue.

"We had proper attires worth Rs 29,000 each provided by the IOA and the ministry and there is no confusion on that front. We have even spoken to Shiva but he wants to go the other way," Gupta said.

"We have never demanded for any kind of financial help from anyone in Canada. We are honoured to represent India at Vancouver 2010 and we don't need any money, especially when it is a charity," he added.

The Indo-Canadian community, including South Asian broadcaster Shushma Datt and Surrey-based company Sports Unlimited owner TJ Johal, has been raising funds for the three-man Indian team after they came to know that the team had no uniform for the opening ceremony.

However, Muddasir Mir, coach and media officer of the Indian contingent, blamed Keshavan for giving wrong statements to the media and creating all this confusion.

"This is all due to wrong statements of Shiva Keshavan.

Since his father didn't have the uniform, he also decided not to wear the proper uniform during the opening ceremony. We had organised a press conference to clarify our stand but nobody has published that statement," he said.

In the release, a copy of which is with PTI, Gupta gave a detailed description of the funds provided by the ministry to clarify their stand.

"Our Luge Athlete (Keshavan) was sponsored by the Limca Book of Records and Swiss International Airlines while most of his expenses were self borne; IOC also gave a scholarship for 2 years.

"For this Olympic Winter Games, the Ministry for sports has also contributed $20000 towards his Travel and Equipment. Indian NOC and Ministry of Sports, Govt Of India provided us reasonably sufficient funds for uniform and other kits for attending the Games," the release said.

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