International shooter-turned-sports administrator, Randhir Singh, has been a key official in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for over two decades. But it’s for the first time in all these years that he feels he is “having to grapple with the upheavals within the apex sports body”.
“In my 25 years as sports administrator, I am having to confront the ugly side of Indian sports…dirty politics,” said Randhir, referring to the turmoil within the IOA that has vitiated the atmosphere ahead of the IOA elections.
Randhir, who is the IOA secretary-general, is in the race for the post of president this time around.
He says, “It’s a democratic setup and people have the right to speak and air their views, but instead of building India’s image at the global level, the politics in sports is not only sending a wrong message to the international sporting community but within the domestic setup as well.”
According to him, at a time when the debate should be on restructuring Indian sports, the top sports officials are indulging in a war of words that would only tarnish the image of Indian sports. “It’s strange that to grab the chair, some of us would stoop so low; I can’t believe it.”
Randhir’s camp is fighting the elections against the group led by Abhey Chautala, who is the rival candidate to head the IOA.
Randhir, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, said that officials involved in the Olympic Movement in the country should realise that all that is happening within the apex sports body “will trickle down to the society and affect upcoming players”.
“We should set good standards for future athletes and avoid mudslinging,” he added.
He is also surprised with the way many of his friends have turned their backs on him.
Ministry wants meeting with IOC
Even as the IOA elections saw another postponement on Wednesday, the sports ministry wrote to IOC president, Jacques Rogge, apprising him of the fact that the government did not wish to interfere with the functioning of the IOA provided the sports body adhered to the Sports Code.
“If the IOA adheres to the National Sports Code while electing its office-bearers, it would only amount to fair and transparent elections,” secretary, sports, PK Deb has said in his letter to Rogge.
The ministry has proposed a meeting with IOC representatives to clear any doubts. It also wants the IOA elections to be held after the proposed meeting.