Play by the rules

The recent tennis controversy underlines the need for close monitoring of various sports bodies in India.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2012 22:58 IST
Hindustan Times

Many major Indian sports federations are in turmoil, with a lot of focus on their administrative set-up. While the sports ministry is trying to enforce rules that bar top office-bearers from continuing beyond three terms and stipulate an age limit of 70 years, the sports bodies are fighting the clauses tooth and nail, claiming it is an attempt to undermine their independence.

With India getting off the floor as far as sporting success at the highest levels are concerned, it desperately needs dynamic sports management and the current wrangling promises to be a tortuous process.

Amid this, tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi pointing an accusing finger at the All India Tennis Association (AITA), particularly its boss Anil Khanna, threatens to turn ugly. The AITA slapped a two-year suspension on Mr Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna from selection for national duty as punishment for their refusal to partner their number one but estranged compatriot Leander Paes in the men's doubles at the London Olympics.

Mr Bhupathi, who got his way after insisting that he would only partner Mr Bopanna, got an interim stay on AITA's diktat from the Karnataka High Court. Mr Bhupathi has also accused Mr Khanna of a 'dictatorial' attitude and said he was vindictive, charges the long-serving official has rubbished.

The veteran player has accused Mr Khanna of removing two clauses in the association's constitution in 2005 that specifically disqualified people with a commercial interest in tennis from being office-bearers.

The action taken this month is tantamount to striking down its own decision, having officially cleared Mr Bhupathi and Mr Bopanna to play together in London in the first place. It would have been more appropriate if it had refused to entertain their demand and taken prompt action citing indiscipline, instead of then bowing to pressures.

The charges that the AITA faces underline the need for close monitoring of various associations. Many of them are top heavy with decision-making closely held in the hands of a few, leaving little scope for proper functioning of the state units, in turn stunting the growth of sports across the country.

First Published: Sep 26, 2012 22:56 IST