India’s number one shuttler Lakshya Sen, his family and former national coach Vimal Kumar were charged with age fraud and cheating in an FIR filed in Bengaluru.
The FIR, filed on Thursday by M Goviappa Nagaraja, alleged that the 21-year-old reigning Commonwealth Games champion, along with his brother Chirag Sen, had fudged their age to get into playing age-group tournaments since 2010.
The complaint, a copy of which is in possession of PTI, also names Sen’s father Dhirendra, a coach with the Sports Authority of India, mother Nirmala and Kumar who has been coaching the duo for more than 10 years.
They have been charged with cheating (Section 420), forgery (468), using a forged document as genuine (471) and acts done by several persons of common intention (34) under the Indian Penal Code.
The Sen brothers, who hail from Uttarakhand, train under Kumar at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, while the complainant runs another academy in the metropolis.
The complainant alleged that Kumar colluded with Lakshya’s parents to forge a birth certificate in 2010 and if the charges were proven, the star Indian shuttler, who was awarded the Arjuna recently, will have to forego a lot of his records.
Categorically denying the charges, Kumar told PTI: “It is very annoying. It is cheap stuff. Lakshya has done well and has started training again after a break. It is mentally very disturbing for him.”
Currently No. 6 in the world, Lakshya was on Wednesday honoured with the Arjuna Award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He won a World Championship bronze after going down to compatriot Kidambi Srikanth in 2021.
He was also a runner-up in the All England Championships and played a key role in India’s historic Thomas Cup triumph earlier this year.
The chief coach of Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Kumar further said in a statement that the allegations were “baseless, frivolous and made with malicious intent”.
“As all badminton lovers are aware, age verification is the sole prerogative and responsibility of the Badminton Association of India who is sole governing authority for administering the game in India,” he said.
“All players no matter where they train always represent their respective affiliated state units or the country while participating in any domestic or international tournament.
“My focus over the 30 years as a coach has always been to groom our upcoming youngsters to the best of my ability to bring laurels for our country based on their merit. I, therefore, deny all these false allegations against me. I would not like to make any further comments in this regard,” he added.
As per the complaint, Lakshya’s age is 24, while the date of birth (August 16, 2001) registered with the Badminton Association of India makes him three years younger.
His elder brother Chirag, on the other hand, is alleged to be 26, even as his BAI ID makes him 24 (July 22, 1998).
According to the complaint, Lakshya deprived several children from getting access to quality badminton facilities and sponsorships by participating in several tournaments in age group category.
The complainant further alleged that their family and the coach spoiled many upcoming talented shuttlers in the region and demanded legal action against the five.
Lakshya and his family are yet to respond on the matter.