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Spectre of IOC sanctions against India is but a hollow threat

The former All England Badminton champion comes out in support of the age & tenure rule, Prakash Padukone writes.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2011 01:52 IST
Prakash Padukone
Prakash Padukone
Hindustan Times

It is not a coincidence that current and former athletes are supporting the Sports Bill while the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and sports federations are calling it "draconian". It is time to implement guidelines for sports bodies and the proposed changes which the government is planning are steps for improvement.

If we want to see our athletes excel in the Olympics, a proper system of administration is needed, which should be headed by people who are present full time. No one better than a former sportsman understands what the young athletes want, so it is a wise move to give former players 25% representation.

Giving representation to former international players in the executive committee of federations will enable them to contribute in the functioning of federations, and is the most significant clause of the Bill.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) follows age and tenure guidelines, so why not the IOA and other federations? The IOC president can continue for a maximum of 12 years (three four-year terms) and that too if he is re-elected. Administrators do not want new faces to come in. Hence, the objections to the age and tenure rule.

Eight and 12 years is a long time to put a system in place. An example is the BCCI, where office-bearers cannot continue for more than four years. This is one reason why it is better governed than other federations.

As executive president of the Badminton Association of India, I brought about a transformation in 1997. I put systems in place to replace faulty procedures and moved out in two years time. The results are for everyone to see. I assumed office in October 1997 and within nine months India won four medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, which is still a record. In the previous edition of the CWG in 1994, the team wasn't cleared as there was no chance of getting a medal.

The good performances have continued. Gopi Chand won the All-England in 2001 after a gap of 21 years, Saina Nehwal emerged on the world scene and the doubles pairs too are doing well. These are examples of what change can bring about in sports.

The IOA's claim that the IOC could impose sanctions if it allows the government to intervene is a hollow threat. In many countries, federations follow guidelines laid down by the government. In France, the ministry gives a certificate to federations, which gives them the authority to field national teams in international tournaments.

Since all federations get grants and subsidies directly or indirectly, they must adhere to the changes in the Bill. And since federations use public money, they should come under the RTI Act.

First Published: Nov 23, 2011 23:02 IST