bowling ball 88 .
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Israel's Jeff Rabkin, who is the world's top lawn bowler, has been suspended from the Lawn Bowls Association of Israel (LBAI), and has stopped playing the sport, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Rabkin, who served as the LBAI secretary in charge of finances, declined to respond to an inquiry from the Post about why he had been dismissed.
"I've got no comment," he said on Thursday. "It's all over."
Israel's bowling community, numbering some 700 bowlers at eight clubs throughout the country, is abuzz with the story, but the reason for Rabkin's suspension has been hushed up by the
LBAI president Ronnie Kaufman said the motive behind Rabkin's dismissal had been addressed by the steering committee of the bowling community, which had decided to resolve it internally.
"The issue was brought up, discussed and handled by the bowling community," he said. "We had a meeting and there was an open discussion, and it was decided that the whole affair would be handled by the bowling community."
"We decided to keep it within the family, if you like," Kaufman added.
"Everyone knows about it," said one source, claiming that there had been an "apparent cover-up of the Rabkin affair by officials or colleagues of Rabkin."
The Jerusalem Post received an anonymous fax that stated Rabkin had been suspended and apparently outlined why, but neither Rabkin nor any of the local and international lawn bowl officials contacted by the Post confirmed the reasons for the suspension.
A spokesman for World Bowls in Scotland said that he had heard nothing of the Rabkin affair. "I don't even remotely know what you're talking about," he said.
World Bowls currently ranks Rabkin at the top of its list of men's bowlers, and he was slated to represent Israel at the next World Bowls competition in New Zealand, scheduled for January 2008.
Rabkin is a 49-year-old father of three who lives in Ra'anana. A bookkeeper by profession, he immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1985.
In an interview with the Post in February, Rabkin complained that his sporting accomplishments had not been acknowledged here, and that he couldn't afford to compete in all of the top international lawn bowls competitions.
Rabkin said he and other world-class Israeli bowlers were not appreciated in their home country.
"We don't get the respect we should," he said. "We don't get any recognition from the press [or] recognition from the government. I've got absolutely nothing for my achievements. I've got five medals at world-championship level and I got absolutely nothing. One year, I got NIS 2,000."