ISSF Shooting World Cup: Hungarian shooters' internal tiff forces rejig of 50m 3P men’s team final

The trouble in the Hungarian camp is attributed to the brewing discord between Peni and Sidi, with the former raising concerns over Sidi’s fairplay. Peni accused the 42-year-old Sidi of using a bipod during the qualification rounds, an act that finds no clear mention in the ISSF rulebook.

Shantanu Srivastava March 25, 2021 16:16:52 IST
ISSF Shooting World Cup: Hungarian shooters' internal tiff forces rejig of 50m 3P men’s team final

File image of Peter Sidi.

New Delhi: The men’s 50-metre 3P final between India and Hungary was mired in controversy here on Thursday after the visiting team failed to show up at the range owing to an internal conflict. The Hungarian team, consisting of World No 1 Istvan Peni, five-time Olympian Peter Sidi, and 2018 Junior World Championships silver medallist Zalan Pekler did not turn up for the 11 am start, forcing the ISSF Technical Delegate to reschedule the event for Friday afternoon. India will now face USA in the gold medal playoff.

The trouble in the Hungarian camp is attributed to the brewing discord between Peni and Sidi, with the former raising concerns over Sidi’s fairplay. Peni accused the 42-year-old Sidi of using a bipod during the qualification rounds, an act that finds no clear mention in the ISSF rulebook.

A 3P shooter is not permitted to shoot while resting his/her rifle on a bipod, but whether the equipment may be rested between shots is not evidently clear. However, the 2018 USA Shooting Rules for 50m and 10m Air Rifle states, “Bipods may be used to support the rifle before and after shooting or during position changes, but bipods, whether fixed or folding, must be removed from the rifle during all match firing times.”

Peni insists his problem with Sidi – who uses a Walther 500KK rifle – is not because of any apparent advantage that the seasoned shooter may be looking to exploit, but with his knack of circumventing the rules.

“There is no advantage (in using bipods), but this is not what the rules say. Peter Sidi has been disqualified multiple times for violating the rules. He has played around with his equipment in the past too, and a respected Hungarian jury once resigned in disgust, saying they won’t adjudicate until he continues to shoot,” Peni said.

Rules aside, Peni has reasons to be miffed, for Sidi has a bit of history when it comes to disqualifications. At the London Shooting World Cup in 2012, he was disqualified for violating jacket rules; at the 2014 European Cup final, he was ruled out because his rifle was overweight by 4 grammes, and if Peni is to be believed, Sidi’s career disqualifications “can be counted on both hands.”

Sidi, meanwhile, alleged that Peni has been creating trouble for him for a while now. At the Hungarian Championships final last September, the issue with Sidi’s rifle cropped up again. Sidi claims the jury couldn’t find anything fishy with his equipment, but the “trouble created by Peni” pushed him to the second spot from the fifth place.

Two weeks before coming to the capital for the ongoing World Cup, Peni complained about Sidi’s rifle at the Hungarian Indoor Championships. The veteran shooter was red-carded and the jury purportedly did not bother to check his gun.

“I've been shooting for 25 years at the highest level, and never ever got a red card in Olympic events because of my gun. It looks like there are different level of judges in Hungary. Peni is ruling the judges and forcing them against me,” he alleged.

A jury member who Firstpost spoke to said that technically, there is nothing wrong with Sidi’s gun, which is why they cleared it in the first place.

Peni countered, “The jury here may have cleared his gun, but in Hungary, the jury is thinking differently. The ISSF Chairman also has a different opinion on this. If something is in the grey zone, people can have different opinions. But this is not just about this incident alone, he has been doing such things for a number of years now. The Hungarian federation and head coach have also warned him that he shouldn’t be using it (bipod) during this competition. Just this week, the coach had sent him an email asking him not to do any such thing.”

ISSF’s Technical Delegate at the venue, Yair Davidovitz, has taken the issue to the global body’s president, but the Hungarian team is understood to have escaped sanction because the ISSF wants to test the 50-metre 3P team event regardless.

“They (Hungarian team) didn’t come for the competition, so we have decided to conduct the gold medal match between India and USA tomorrow. There are no ISSF rules for such scenarios, and the decision rests with the president and general secretary. I have informed them already and they’ll decide (on sanctions or penalty). Since it is a new event, we want the competition to go ahead,” he said.

Reacting to the situation, Pawan Singh, competition manager, said, “The players did not start. They have not given any written reason but all the players did not report on the firing point. We will have a gold medal match between the USA and India. ISSF decided they will do the match because there is no fault of India. USA were placed third in the qualifications and they will play the gold medal match.”

Both Sidi and Peni have earned the Olympic quota for Hungary.

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