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Punch in the face for sports officials

India are yet to come to terms with the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association but things are going from bad to worse for the country’s sports. Navneet Singh reports.

other Updated: Dec 08, 2012 01:15 IST
Navneet Singh

India are yet to come to terms with the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association but things are going from bad to worse for the country’s sports. After Tuesday’s decision by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, the International Boxing Association suspended the national body of the sport, pointing to rule violations in the federation’s elections.

The government, which insists the federations and IOA must follow its strict sports code, swiftly followed up by suspending the boxing federation and de-recognising the archery federation.

Friday saw plenty of action but little assurance that Indian athletes, left seething and worried about their future, will not be hurt by the actions of their sports bosses. A delegation of the IOA, which went ahead with its elections despite the IOC suspension, met sports minister, Jitendra Singh. He received them but said the meeting had no sanctity as he met him only in their individual capacity.

IOC warning
The new IOA office-bearers face possible legal action by the IOC that has not recognised the December 5 polls. The IOC has said it would deal only with Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who was the acting president, and Randhir Singh, the outgoing secretary-general. This means the new office-bearers may not even be able to carry out day-to-day activities.

A letter from IOC director-general Christophe De Kepper said the IOC might take legal action against the IOA if its funds are misused. “…they are not entitled to access the suspended IOA’s bank accounts and the funds of the Olympic Movement.”

All for nothing
While Abhey Singh Chautala, who was elected the IOA president, led his team to meet the sports minister, Sports Secretary, PK Deb, said his office is yet to receive any official communication on the IOA elections. “So the question of recognition does not arise,” he said.

He said the government had to send its observer as per High Court’s directions. “But it does not mean we would recognise the elections.” However, newly elected IOA secretary-general Lalit Bhanot says they are working to resolve the issue. “I hope things will get better in the coming days,” he said.

According to a ministry official, nothing much transpired in the meeting with the sports minister. “No concrete step was taken,” he added. Jose Sebastian, executive director of Sports Authority of India (SAI) was the government observer during the IOA polls. He is yet to submit his report.

Chautala, who is the chairman of the boxing federation, is feeling the heat.

The world governing body said there was ‘possible manipulation’ in the elections held in Patiala on September 23. The double suspension can hit the boxers hard as they can be barred from participating in important international meets. The IABA insists that it is unlikely to lift the suspension until the IOC revokes the sanctions on IOA.

Chautala insisted the elections were held in a transparent manner. He said he was willing to step down and was ready to hold fresh elections. “I volunteer to quit,” he said. “The international body can send its observer and fix the date.” With the next IOC executive board scheduled to be held only in March, it may turn out to be a miserable winter for the IOA.