In what can be seen as a plot twist, Pullela Gopichand, head coach of the Indian national team had recommended HS Prannoy for the Arjuna Award on June 3, 2020.

The recommendation by Gopichand clearly contradicts the course of action by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and indicates that the head coach was kept out of the loop on the disciplinary sanction against Prannoy.

“As a recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, I can recommend a player for Arjuna (award). So, I recommended Prannoy’s name. I did this in the capacity of a Khel Ratna and not as the chief coach of Indian badminton,” Gopichand told Times of India.

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Earlier this month, Prannoy had publicly lashed out against BAI for snubbing him twice on the Arjuna Award nominations, in 2019 and 2020. BAI clarified that he was not recommended for the award this year based on disciplinary grounds and has show-caused the athlete for the public rant.

“Just yesterday (June 19), we learned about the problem of discipline. Since Prannoy was disappointed because it was not recommended on June 2, I thought I could help him as a Khel Ratna recipient,” Gopichand added.