Throwing their weight behind an embattled Jwala Gutta, several former players have described the Badminton Association of India disciplinary committee's recommendation of a life ban on the star doubles player as "ridiculous and harsh".
"It is a very harsh decision. I think BAI could have dealt with it in a quieter way and not go to the press and defame her in this way," former national champion Arvind Bhat said.
"I don't know exactly what she said during the IBL match but whatever it is, life ban recommendation is too harsh.
"They could have just warned her. Moreover, she is the spokesperson of the Delhi team and as an icon player, she spoke on behalf of her team. It was a team decision."
In a surprise decision, the Badminton Association of India's disciplinary committee recommended a life ban on Jwala for trying to stop some players of her franchise Krrish Delhi Smashers from playing a match against Banga Beats in the recent Indian Badminton League.
India's top men's doubles players K T Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas, who played for Pune Pistons in the inaugural IBL, also said it was ridiculous and will affect Indian badminton.
"It is ridiculous. Life ban is too much. Whatever delay happened in the match, I don't think Jwala is the only person who has to suffer for that. It was kind of unfair what happened at the last moment. Naturally, anyone who would have been in her place would have reacted," Rupesh said.
"It is a call which Jwala alone could not have taken, the franchise must have told her. It is weird why this matter has been taken to such an extent. Life ban doesn't make sense. It has been blown out of proportion," he added.
His men's doubles partner Sanave Thomas said: "I don't agree with this recommendation of life ban. I think she is such an experienced player, who has performed consistently over the years. Along with V Diju and Ashwini Ponnappa, she has pulled off so many matches for India and life ban will be too harsh.
"Even if it is not a life ban and a six-month suspension then also it would be harsh," Thomas added.
A controversy had erupted during the August 25 tie when Delhi Smashers threatened to pull out against Banga Beats over the last-minute replacement of injured singles player, Hu Yun of Hong Kong with Denmark's Jan Jorgensen.
As an icon player of Delhi Smashers, Jwala was involved in the matter, which was resolved after Beats finally left out Jorgensen and played Arvind Bhat, who was already part of the team.
Jwala was then served a 14-day show cause notice by BAI for her conduct during the tie, which was delayed by half an hour.
According to insiders, who are in the know of events, it is not about the IBL match only, the recommendation shows BAI's vindictive nature and Jwala has been targetted for her past outburst against the BAI.
"IBL match is not the main issue. There are other things. Not everything is hunky dory in Indian badminton. There are people who are not happy with Jwala partnering Ashwini again and BAI is threatening her with a life ban to teach her a lesson," a source said.
Jwala, herself, has decided to stay mum but according to sources, she has not yet received any notice seeking her response on the recommendation.