ISSUES of indiscipline in sports have surged over the past few months.
From smoking to drinking alcohol, from being caught for doping to the athletes’ attitude during training – these subjects have been hotly spoken about.
Were these cases of indiscipline managed professionally? Were the decision-makers fair? Was justice served? Or has moral decay taken root in our sports system so badly and so deep that it needs immediate action before it rots further?
Some of the athletes have admitted to their shortcomings. Some of them though, have cried foul. Some are still fighting for their cause.
Let’s look at the case of men’s singles shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and several national divers.
Iskandar was caught smoking in a hotel room during the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, Thailand in May. He admitted to the act and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) dropped him from the Asian Games squad.
National divers led by Pandelela Rinong went overboard during a Chinese New Year celebration party while in China for a centralised training. They consumed alcoholic beverages during a short break in a closed room, which was caught on video and subsequently went viral.
The divers admitted to their fault and were penalised by the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum).
Some felt the decision-makers made a mountain out of a molehill, as smoking and drinking alcohol are considered a personal choice.
Unfortunately, national athletes are bound by contract and the requirement is for them to stay away from smoking, drinking and many other long lists of don’ts for as long as they are under the boundaries of the national team.
Kudos to these athletes for owning up and well done to the national bodies for taking swift actions!
But I find it hard to accept a recent decision made by the Malaysian Weightlifting Federation (MWF).
They imposed a blanket one-year ban on all athletes although only four in the team - Mohd Fazrul Azrie Mohdad, Muhd Hakimie Haikal Nordin, Muhd Zaidi Nordin and Ronny Jesos – tested positive for banned substances this year.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medallist Azroy Hazalwafie Izhar Ahmad and Muhd Aznil Bidin were not involved, but they too had to pay the price. The reason is because they were blamed for hiding information that could have enabled the association from taking preventive measures.
Why bark up the wrong tree? Why punish Azroy and Aznil, who have worked hard to produce good results in an ethical and honest way? Why take away their privileges when others had committed the crime?
I’m sure the officials too would have smelled something fishy in the national team. Why weren’t they penalised for their silence?
Sometimes, it’s so easy for officials to blame athletes to safeguard their own positions.
Maybe, the weightlifting officials too should have served the same one-year ban from being involved in any sports activities!
In shooting, an old case has re-surfaced with Muslifah Zulkifli, Nur Ayuni Farhana Abdul Halim and Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi wanting another chance to be heard by the newly appointed Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
They were irked with the National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) and the National Sports Institute (NSI) for labelling them as indisciplined en route to being dropped from the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and Podium Programme.
The athletes filed a suit against NSI and it was struck off by the court on Feb 28 this year. They even failed in their appeal.
But on Wednesday, the trio pleaded for the new minister to re-look the case.
In good faith, these athletes should be given a chance to speak up. The NSI have nothing to fear if they think they are in the right.
After all, everyone deserves answers and closure.
It’s also sad that another recent incident involving Asian Games flag-bearer Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan has surfaced, although the national karate exponent is known by the sports fraternity for her dedication, commitment and sacrifices.
The Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) revealed that she had been struggling to contain her weight and had discipline issues for “some time”. They even sounded a warning bell for Syakilla to buck up.
It’s obvious that Syakilla needs help. Public reprimand will definitely not do her confidence any good. Instead, the association should give her all the support to lift her up to the top again and continue with her chase for the Olympic Games.
I do not tolerate indiscipline nor am I asking anyone to condone it.
Athletes should know indiscipline can lead to the downfall of their careers. And officials too should not use athletes’ indiscipline for self-gain, to exert power or to show their superiority. It should be managed in a fair, just and transparent way.
This writer too is facing some discipline issues of late. She is finding it hard to eat on time and can’t seem to stay away from junk food - but she’s working hard to get it right.