"To sum up the deliberations of this committee it can be said with no reservations that Indian shooting over-achieved at the Rio Olympic Games."
Twelve (12) Indian shooters travelled to Rio for the Olympics, and returned with no medals. This despite many of them being among the best in the world in their categories. It triggered a probe into the failings of the National Rifle Association of India and now, the findings are out.
The team of five, headed by India's only individual Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, gave an honest assessment, reporting that Indian shooting had ridden its luck over the past few years and needed to change its tact to avoid another embarrassing display in four years' time.
ScoopWhoop accessed the report and it wasn't just the NRAI and its president (Patiala scion and son of Captain Amarinder Singh) Raninder Singh who got the rap from the committee. Popular shooters were not spared either:
"Gagan Narang: It was his fourth Olympics. He had already won the bronze in air rifle in London. (He) Knew what it takes to win an Olympic medal. Gave himself three chances but the coach was categorical that he did not prepare the best especially in terms of his physical condition. He was carrying weight and did not have the endurance to finish strong. Coach Stanley Lapidus was very clear that his training schedule was not followed by Narang - which was informed many times to the NRAI. However no action was taken. The issue of fitness was ignored and the NRAI was in the dark about Narang carrying a heel injury in to the Olympics."
"Jitu Rai: If there was one shooter who evoked maximum confidence of winning a medal it was this Army lad. The committee feels that the foreign coach Pavel Smirnov did not have the expert in the precision event to help Jitu Rai win an Olympic medal. Rai's admission of his inability to find a working relationship put the shooter in a precarious position of coming up with his own training plans. The lack of expertise for the best shooter in India despite no dearth of facilities and support from the Army further highlights the lack of proper planning. His extraordinary talent was taken for granted to deliver an Olympic medal. Any level of of talent is irrelevant without correct preparations for the Olympics."
"Manavjit Sandhu: The inflexible attitude of Sandhu despite repeated failures in the Olympics is disappointing. It was time to adopt a new approach. Coach Marcello Dradi also stated that actual training with him was negligible despite Sandhu spending a majority of his time in Italy. There was no paucity of funds but there was no inclination to take the right path."
"Chain Singh: The Army shooter competing in his first Olympics had doubts planted in his mind that his spot may be taken away when he fell ill in the run up to the games. The committee feels that when it comes to the Olympics, cold and ruthless decisions should be taken in the best interest of the country and not decisions that are seen from the prism of political considerations. If there was even a ten per cent doubt on his fitness a replacement should have been pursued."
But that's just half the story - the NRAI itself is an organisation in dire need of change.
"The word coach has lost its meaning in the context of Indian shooting. Range officers are being nominated as coaches as a matter of political convenience. The coach is one of most important cogs in in the wheel and cannot be a political appointee."
"It is extremely appalling to find that the NRAI does not have a single coach's report over the last couple of years. The NRAI when asked for such reports by the committee replied that it had stopped asking for such coach's reports because the Sports Authority of India had stopped asking for them! At present the progress of a shooter is measured on their world ranking. The NRAI has a long way to go towards reaching global standards."
"Equally shocking is the complete disappearance of the 'camp' from the national calendar. It is shocking that camps for all shooters have not been held for more than 20 days in the past two years! It is extremely disappointing that NRAI is washing its hands off the camps on basis of logistical issues. It is appalling that basic issues like food cannot be taken care of by the NRAI."
But here's the big question: Will the NRAI make any changes? And will Singh take moral responsibility and resign the way Australian Sports Commission's chief executive Simon Hollingsworth did - after the nation finished with only eight gold medals?
What's worse is that we already know the answer: going by the dismal record of Indian sport and its officials, don't be surprised if it's a resounding "no".
Editor's note: This article was published hours before the report became public. The excerpts and full text of the report is now available here.