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Bungling Sport

No accountability While the government is spending huge amounts to promote sports, mismanagement is a stumbling block. A look at four sports that have got it wrong

india Updated: Jan 16, 2010 22:43 IST

Shooting

What is wrong?

In the last decade, Indian shooters have won more medals than any other sport, but the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) hasn’t been able to broad base the sport. Though the number of shooters is increasing every year, they are still very few compared to other countries. Except for Sahara India, which has only come after Abhinav Bindra’s Beijing Olympics gold, NRAI has failed to attract sponsors. At the domestic level, it organises only the Nationals and a Masters meet. There is no proper coaching system for top shooters.

Who is to blame?

The NRAI, which has failed to cash in on the achievements. The Sports Ministry’s objections also create

problems in getting foreign coaches. The ministry wants coaches to be hired till the 2010 Games and no world-class coach wants to come for such a short period.

What needs to be done?

Have more domestic tournaments, work on making the sport spectator-friendly. “The NRAI should conduct more domestic events and make it spectators-friendly. They should have a league system like in Europe. Unless shooting becomes spectator-friendly we won’t expect sponsors,” said a former shooter. NRAI should focus more on providing special training to top shooters. Right now the bunch in the core group preparing for the Commonwealth Games is big and there is just one foreign coach.

Hockey

What is wrong?

EVERYTHING. Mismanagement and lack of transparency have weighed down Indian hockey for decades. The sport is not marketed properly. Administrators are more interested in nurturing their power base while the standard of the game plummets at a steady pace. The eight-time Olympic gold-medallists failed to even qualify for the 2008 edition. Age fudging is rampant while poor umpiring, faulty coaching and apathy towards players add to the overall mess.

Who is to blame?

Hockey India, Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Ministry.

If the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was plagued by ad-hocism, mismanagement and general apathy towards players, Hockey India is no better. The affiliation process has raised a stink and elections postponed twice. IOA, which had turned a blind eye to IHF for years, is now making matters worse by meddling in the affiliation process.

What needs to be done?

Hold free and transparent elections involving all erstwhile units of IHF and IWHF. A professional set-up minus honorary administrators. HI needs to put in place well-managed youth development programme to replenish dwindling talent base and organise national championships regularly. Make efforts to weed out ills like age fudging and poor umpiring and coaching at grassroots level.

Weightlifting

What is wrong?

The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) faces a possibility of a third ban in over a decade after six lifters were caught for doping in October. Under the rules of the apex body, a national body could be banned for four years if four or more lifters test positive in a calendar year. A ban would mean Indian lifters would miss the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Who is to blame?

Lack of accountability among office bearers and even coaches has been the bane of Indian weightlifting. The administrators have failed to curb the doping menace and are only interested in holding on to their posts, as evident in the recently held elections where the same set of officials returned in different garbs. No transparency in selection process adds to the confusion.

What needs to be done?

Apart from a total overhaul of the administration, IWF should put in place stringent anti-doping measures. Magad Slamma, the Egyptian coach of the national team, quit last year, claiming that some of the top lifters opted out of competition dope tests on some pretext or another. Slamma’s recommendations on doping and selection process need to be looked into and implemented.

Athletics

What is wrong?

A lot, though it doesn’t appear on the surface. The affairs are controlled by 2-3 people who have been in power for years despite government guidelines of two consecutive terms. Suresh Kalmadi is president for life since many years, while Lalit Bhanot has been secretary-general for ages. The Sports Ministry recently threatened to de-recognise the Athletics Federation of India if it failed to put things in order.

Who is to blame?

The officials in power function in an autocratic manner and everyone has to toe the line.

What needs to be done?

Administration has to be transparent and rules regarding consecutive terms strictly adhered to. The AFI also has to stop camps in the erstwhile Soviet Republics with dubious past, which has led to allegations of rampant doping and masking. After taking part in such camps, athletes qualify for major events but fail miserably at the main events. AFI should take stringent action against athletes caught doping and not try and shield them — like in some cases in the past.