Indian swimmer-turned-coach Prasanta Karmakar, a bronze medalist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, has been suspended for 3 years by the India Paralympic Committee. He won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the S9 50 freestyle, swimming in front of a home crowd in Delhi. That marked his country’s first-ever Commonwealth Games medal in aquatics.
The reason for the suspension was laid out in a press release by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). The PCI alleges that Karmakar “gave a camera to one of his associates and asked him to make video films of female swimmers during” a meet. The parents of those swimmers objected, and when pressed by the PCI, the man making the video informed the chairman of para-swimming in India, Dr. V.K. Dabas, that he was making the videos at the behest of Karmakar.
Soon after, the PCI received another complaint that Karmakar himself was making videos, recording the swimmers on a tripod-mounted camera. When he was again stopped, a tense meeting occurred, where the PCI says that he “in full anger, asked the Chairman and other office bearers….why they were stopping his man from making the video.” An argument ensued, where Karmakar demanded to see the complaints in writing. More arguing ensued, and Karmakar allegedly refused to delete the videos, citing his credentials as an Arjuna award winner – a prestigious sporting award in India that includes a 500,000 Rupee ($7,500 USD) cash prize – almost 5-times the average annual income for an Indian citizen.
Some of those gathered filed formal written complaints of receiving what the PCI called harassment and threats from Karmakar. Karmakar then sent a journalist to further argue over the video with the PCI. He was eventually detained by police until he agreed to delete the videos and photos.
The PCI says then that he attempted to stir an anti-PCI sentiment among athletes and their parents later at the same meet. As the meet was being cleaned up, Karmakar is accused of entering the room where the PCI executives were packing up and shouting loudly at them and using “most filthy language” against them.
This all took place in April of 2017. In December, he was called to stand in front of the Disciplinary Committee of the PCI. He at first denied making the videos, but then later admitted to it. After deliberation, the PCI decided that Karmakar’s actions brought a “very bad name” to the PCI and to the “respected class of swimming fraternity, sports world, and the country which is damaging to the country’s image.” They also noted that he would not apologize for his actions. As a result, the PCI suspended him for 3 years from participation or sponsorship in all PCI events beginning January 20th, 2018, and that his employer Haryana Sports department “take strict disciplinary action against him.”
Karmakar was a boundary-breaker on many fronts for India swimming. In 2003, he became India’s first-ever World Championship medalist in swimming, and was also a 2006, 2010, and 2014 Asian Para Games medalist. In 2016, he was named the coach of the Indian squad at the Paralympic Games, with