Former World Championship bronze-medallist boxer Gaurav Bidhuri has challenged the selection procedure for the upcoming trials for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers and sought Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju’s intervention in the matter. In a letter addressed to Rijiju, the Boxing Federation of India, and the Sports Authority of India, Bidhuri has said that he has been unfairly kept out of the trials to be held on December 29 and 30 in Bellary, Karnataka.

“I have had enough of this unfair system. The medallists from this year’s world championships were given direct slots in the Olympic Qualifiers. But when I won the world bronze in 2017, I wasn’t even allowed to appear for Commonwealth and Asian Games trials,” Bidhuri told PTI.

“At that time I was told I hadn’t competed for enough, this time I am being told I haven’t competed against strong opponents. Can somebody explain what is the selection criteria here? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Bidhuri wants to appear in the 57kg category trials for the Qualifiers scheduled in February in China. The world medallists exempted from trials are Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg).

The boxers finalised for the trials in the 57kg division, on the basis of a ranking points system, are former world quarterfinalist and Asian silver-winner Kavinder Singh Bisht, Commonwealth Games medal-winning duo of Mohammed Hussamuddin and Gaurav Solanki and former world youth world champion Sachin Siwach.

Responding to Bidhuri’s allegation, a top federation official, on condition of anonymity, said that the boxer’s exclusion was based on performance.

“The selection policy has been in the public domain for a long time. There is no discrimination as he has alleged. Don’t want to get into details but the rankings have been made purely on performance,” the official said.

Bidhuri said the ‘inconsistent’ policy has left him confused about how to approach tournaments.

“Ok, I lost to Kavinder and Solanki in the league but they were exceptionally close bouts. After 2-3 (scoreline) losses to them, I at least deserve a trial bout against them. I can’t be simply told that I am not good enough,” he asserted.

The Sports Minister, in the past, has made it clear that he cannot intervene in selection matters as it would be considered a violation of the Olympic charter.