WSF to investigate claims that winning juniors are 20 years old
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
The World Squash Federation are investigating claims that Pakistan fielded two over-age players while winning the recent World Junior Team Championship in Poland. Israr Ahmed, who beat Egypt’s number one Saadeldin Abouaish in straight games in the final, is understood to be 20 years old, as is victorious team-mate Abbas Shoukat.
Reports in 2013 confirmed that Israr and Shoukat were playing in under-17 tournaments while over-age but this practice appears to have continued unchecked by any of the national, regional or global authorities.
One source in Pakistan claimed today that the fault lies with corrupt officials, who have little or no background in squash. He said: “They are continuing to flout the rules in the hope of gaining international success at junior level because there is such a huge void at senior level.
“It’s all a game to show titles. They can’t win PSA titles, so they try to show junior success instead, claiming the glory for themselves.
“I feel there is a huge lack of honesty and sincerity to the sport when it comes to these high ranking officials. The players are just told what to do.
“I won’t be surprised if it’s true. But again I feel those who took these players to Poland, knowing they were over-age, need to be held responsible. Players like Israr Ahmed on his own can’t do anything.
“The opposing teams need to take this up very seriously. Several parents backed down at the British Open Juniors one year because the organisers did not want to get their hands dirty… this time the authorities need to take action. It’s pretty obvious it’s happening.
“It’s about time these things are seriously dealt with. Qamar Zaman has always been ‘vocal’ on the overage issue since his own son Mansoor and his nephew Shahid left the juniors yet he travelled with the team this time. He should have been aware that Israr was not allowed to play locally.”
Squash Mad published this report in June 2013, which clearly shows that the Asian Squash Federation were asking questions about the same group of players who were then competing illegally in under-17 competitions.
The report revealed wholesale cheating, as follows: “The PSF conducted age scrutiny of almost all junior players of the country in three phases: first in June last year at Islamabad, where 14 players of under-11 category were found over-age; 18 players for under-13; 22 players were over-age in under-15 category; 34 in under-17; and 31 in under-19.”
Both Israr and Abbas Shauqat were among those considered over-age for this category (under 17) by the PSF.
Our Pakistan contact commented: “So according to this, they were minimum 17 in June 2013. That makes them both minimum 20 now. This also shows that the PSF have continued to openly cheat all this time and that the Asian Federation, and the WSF, have allowed them to get away with it while all this information has been in the public domain.”
The WSF have confirmed that the subject was raised by opposing teams during the tournament in Bielsko Biala, where former squash powerhouse Pakistan won their first title since 2008.
Media reports have come to light which reveal that the Pakistan Squash Federation bans over-age players from competing in domestic events but knowingly selects them for international competition.
The WSF Chief Executive Andrew Shelley has written to the Pakistani Federation and Asian Squash Federation seeking to clarify the situation and has given permission for Squash Mad to publish his correspondence:
“It must be accepted by the Pakistan Squash Federation that there seem to be a large number of officials who believe that some Pakistani players may have passports that do not equate to their actual age. Equally, the Pakistan Federation should have the opportunity to put the doubts to rest by proving them to be unfounded.
“The way to achieve this would be for ASF to consider insisting that all entries from Pakistan for the Asian Junior Championships in September must be available for an age testing procedure by scan arranged in Kuala Lumpur, if selected by ASF, before they may compete.
“This would enable them to be formally cleared to participate, and so cause any doubt to cease. (It would also enable any players who had also competed in the World Juniors to have any doubts about their results set aside).”
In the competition in Poland, Pakistan beat Australia in the quarter-finals, USA in the semi-finals and Egypt in the final. Israel Ahmed played in all three matches. In their qualifying group, they beat Germany and Hong Kong China. Again, Ahmed played in both matches.
If Pakistan are proved to have cheated, angry rival nations are believed to be seeking a ruling to declare the 2016 result null and void. Whether that will result in Egypt being declared the champions is not yet clear.
An article, published in Pakistan by The News, written by Waqar Hamza and dated March 21, 2015, clearly shows that this information has once again been in the public domain for some considerable time.
Pakistan have already been banned from competing in the British Junior Open for the past two years for failing to insist that their players compete in plate events, while allegations of age-group cheating have simmered in the background for decades.
The article is reprinted below:
KARACHI: Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has been allowing overage players to compete at international junior events while debarring them from appearing in national junior events.
‘The News’ has learnt that the federation did not allow seven players to play in under-19 category in the ongoing 1ST SNGPL Championship in Lahore for being overage although some of them had been playing international junior events and had good rankings at the Asian level.
The players who have been denied participation are Sikander Khan from Sindh; Israr Ahmed, Kashif Asif, Awais Ahmed, and Dawar Shahid from Punjab; and Attaullah Shah and Sajid Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The overage players enter their names in international junior events on the basis of their date of birth registered on their passports — which are false.
According to sources, the PSF declared Sikandar Khan overage as he had 10-2-1996 as his date of birth for the said national event. The date of birth according to his passport is 15-1-1998. He is ranked 108th in Asia.
Israr recently played two junior championships in Qatar where he won the title in under-19 category in Qatar Open and stood third in the Doha Open.
Kashif Asif is another player from Punjab who was not allowed to play in the said event in Lahore for being overage, having 3-12-1995 as his date of birth. But he featured in the twin events in Qatar this month in the under-17 category. He won titles in both the events.
Ataullah Shah, Dawar Shahid and Sajid Khan having 10-10-1993 as their date of birth were also denied participation.
“This is an approved policy of our Executive Committee,” PSF secretary Amir Nawaz said. He added that the federation — through age scrutiny campaign — had achieved results regarding the age issues of junior players.
But he failed to explain why the overage players were allowed to feature in international events.