There was a sense of relief as the curtain was coming down on the Commonwealth Games, with no untoward incident reported from the Indian camp.
News of doping, alleged molestation and sexual harassment has trickled in from far shores with monotonous regularity, and one was hopeful that this Indian contingent would return with nothing but pride around their necks.
But that was not to be. Another Games and the name of the country has been sullied by those who should be setting an example for impressionable athletes who look up to them for inspiration.
News about the current IOA boss Rajeev Mehta’s detention/ arrest for alleged drink driving in Glasgow is shameful. The arrest of wrestling referee, Virender Singh Malik, on charges of alleged sexual assault is as embarrassing as it gets.
While the law will take its course and punishment, as per the law of the land, will be handed out to the alleged offenders, this throws up a very pertinent question as to why Indian officials/coaches/masseurs throw decorum and protocol out of the window? Do they behave in the same way in India and the incidents go unreported because of the clout they enjoy?
The clamour for swift and strict action against the two is justifiable. But how long will the country continue to be embarrassed by such acts.
Perhaps, we should have a mechanism like the stringent anti-doping mechanism for athletes to screen these officials before they leave Indian shores. Or, perhaps, the punishment should be so exemplary that others shudder to commit such crimes.
Come to think of it, Mehta was a special invitee of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and presented medals to winners, and Malik had officiated in wrestling matches.
The bigger issue now is everyone would be baying for Mehta’s blood, though his offence is far less grave than the wrestling referee’s.
But what in the unlikely — or likely — scenario of the sports ministry and the powers-that-be deciding to ask the IOA secretarygeneral to step down from his post when the Asian Games are round the corner?
Sports minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, has assured stern action if charges against the officials are proved.
India earned the right to compete in the continental games — CWG, Asian and Olympic Games — after spending 15 months in the wilderness owing to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) suspension after assurances of good governance.
Will he be forced to resign?
If the dissenting voices against Mehta grow and he is forced to resign — or, he voluntarily steps down, or he has to serve a jail term in Scotland — the IOA could again be on shaky ground.
Who will be the interim secretarygeneral in a faction-ridden National Olympic Committee, or whether the entire process of election will start all over again?
Time will tell, but the people who form ethics committees and athletes’ commissions for sportspersons are themselves faltering. Should we have one for them too?