Runaway gymnastics coach alleges racism, discrimination


New Delhi : India’s runaway gymnastics coach Vladimir Chertkov, who disappeared from Guangzhou following a row over taking part in the Asian Games opening ceremony, surfaced in Delhi Sunday and alleged discrimination in preventing him from marching with the Indian contingent.

Support TwoCircles

Russian-born American Chertkov also alleged that Indian officials had a “racist” bias in stopping him from taking part in the march past.

“It was discrimination. It was insult straight on my face. It was humiliating. I can say it was racism,” Chertkov told a television channel.

Refuting the racism charge, India’s chef-de-mission Abhay Singh Chautala said Saturday the coach had been barred from marching with the contingent because of his insistence on going out in his jeans and T-shirt. The coach then handed over his room keys and disappeared, Chautala said.

“All the other foreign coaches participated in the opening ceremony. If we had stopped all of them from participating, then it would have been racism. He is the only one to complain,” he said.

A furious Chautala said the coach should have sorted the matter with the manager of the team or the officials of the contingent and termed his act “irresponsible.”

Chertkov said most of the ceremonial dresses were ill-fitting and many athletes and officials complained about this.

He said he was told to wear a dress that matches with the Indian colours, but when he went for the ceremony he was asked to go away as his outfit was deemed unsuitable for the occasion.

“If I’m not good enough to participate in the opening ceremony, what have I to do? I can’t take it anymore,” he said.

The Russian is aware that the issue has gone out of hand. “I think it is already late,” he said when asked on his chances of returning to Guangzhou.

The outspoken Chertkov had courted controversy before the Commonwealth Games by criticising the conditions in the Games Village, complaining of filthy rooms, faulty electrical fittings and unusable toilets and bathrooms.

Chertkov,52, is a US citizen and was appointed by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in August last year. His contract runs till the end of this month.