Competitors are given three minutes of ‘sighter’ shots to zero in their sights before the competition officially begins and it was at this point that Bindhra, 25, discovered that someone had moved his rear sight.
Dr Amit Bhattacharjee, Abhinav’s personal mental trainer said: “When Abhinav fired the first shot in the sighting time (practice time), it hit the target between the fourth and fifth rings.
“It is unthinkable of any shooter competing at this level to score 4.5 points. But he remained calm and corrected the angle (of his sight) and the end result is in front of you.”
The Indian team authorities said that no official complaint had been made about the incident, since it is acknowledged to be the responsibility of the shooter to take proper care of his rifle.
Baljit Singh Sethi, India’s deputy Chef-the-Mission who is also the secretary general of the National Rifle Association of India, said.
“Actually, you cannot blame anyone for it’s your duty to take care of your gun. He was the only Indian to qualify, so there were shooters only from other countries in that room.”
Bindra has recalled going to the toilet at the same time his German coach Gabriela Buehlmann went out for a cigarette, leaving the gun unattended. It was at this moment that the Indians suspect the rifle was tampered with.
The allegations of cheating come a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was forced to answer allegations in the US media that three of China’s gold-medal winning gymnastics team were underage.
According to Olympic regulations gymnasts must turn 16 by the end of an Olympic year, but several reports in the Chinese media appeared to refer three of the Chinese gymnasts as 13 and 14 as recently as a year ago.
Doubts have been cast over the ages of He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan, and Yang Yilin who look considerably younger than their counterparts. Age is considered an advantage in gymnastics because younger girls are more flexible than older ones.
The victorious gymnasts who beat the USA to win team gold, were subjected to hostile questioning at their victory press conference, with journalists demanding to know if those under suspicion could ‘remember their 15th birthdays’.
The IOC said that passports and other documentation provided by the Chinese authorities during the registration process ‘proved’ the athletes were old enough to compete, but suspicions continue to linger.