India’s sports federations need to first put their own house in order before they showcase to the sports world their growth, organisational ability and money-spending power by hosting the Commonwealth Games.
The year of the Games has begun with each day bringing in news, which should embarrass all those who believe that our inefficient and corrupt past is behind us.
If the news that the National Rifle Shooting Federation has been fined Rs 8 crore for selling ammunition for which they have been given exemption from import duty was not bad enough, today we have hockey players revolting against their federation by not attending the camp for the World Cup.
Much before these two disasters struck, we were faced with a situation where the weightlifting federation could have been banned for two years for a “crime” which has become a chronic disease with them.
That the use of performance-enhancing drugs is rampant in Indian sport is a well-known secret with lifters being the prime culprits. It is difficult now to keep count of those having been found guilty. In a sport, which can bring us a clutch of medals in the Commonwealth Games, India was told to change its federation office-bearers or face sanctions. It would have meant not being eligible for the Delhi Games. The federation did comply with these orders by juggling the posts of the same set of people. What a crass joke, if it can be called that. The federation could still face a ban if the international body gets to the bottom of this skulduggery.
The shooting federation, in its defence, has denied that it is selling ammunition, as reported by the media. They are blaming the wrong interpretation of rules, which do not allow them to give this ammunition to their state bodies. This could very well be true, and if so, a probe needs to be ordered to find out whether the allegations that the federation officials make a killing by selling the ammunition to shooters at market rates, are true or not.
The hockey scene is getting murkier by the day. Much as the ouster of KPS Gill, under whose autocratic regime hockey stagnated, was welcome, the Indian Olympic Association has added more filth to the cesspool called Indian hockey.
The international hockey federation has expressed its displeasure at the way elections for Hockey India are being planned, making it impossible for fair and transparent voting to take place.
India have cancelled the four-nation tournament, and now the players have revolted, demanding a fixed salary from the federation. That our hockey players get a pittance is well known and these demands have been raised even during Gill's time. But wasn’t HI formed to take corrective measures to improve the health of hockey?
No wonder, Gill is smirking today and all those who wish a better future for Indian sports are left tearing their hair.