Power struggles blotted Indian scene

The obduracy of the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in not toeing the line of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prolonged India’s isolation from the Olympic fold before the Indian body finally gave in. The year witnessed the IOC cracking the whip on the National Olympic Committee with Sports Ministry also putting its weight behind.

The IOA blatantly flouted the IOC directives on constitutional amendments and had almost brought upon itself its de-recognition last month. A derecognition would have led to a complete isolation of India from the Olympic movement. As it is, because of the suspension, India competed in the Asian Indoor Games under the OCA banner and the medals of its athletes were not attributed to the country.

Now the delay by IOA  in sorting out the issues with IOC would impact the Indian athletes participating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. The IOA is no position to conduct the elections by February 7 when the Games begin. As a result, the athletes will have to march under the Olympic flag and their successes, if any, will not be attributed to India.

The IOA’s main opposition was to the controversial ‘charge-framed’ clause, which was finally approved at its Special General Body Meeting.

The clause barred any individual against whom charges have been framed by the courts for serious criminal and corruption cases from contesting the polls and called for their automatic suspension. It had a direct impact on Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot.

The two were elected the president and secretary-general in the December 5, 2012 elections, which were declared “null and void” by the IOC. A day before, the world body had suspended the IOA because of government interference and violation of the Olympic Charter and warned it not to go ahead with the elections. Within days, the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for "possible manipulation" of its elections and also because of the suspension of the IOA by the IOC.

Ironically, later it was the Indian government with which the IOC joined hands to ensure “transparency and good governance” within the IOA. The IOC met an Indian delegation comprising the sports ministry and the IOA officials in Lausanne on May 15. The meeting was postponed thrice following a deadlock between the IOA and the Sports Ministry over the controversial National Sports Code.

At the crucial meeting, the IOC drew a road map for India’s return to the Olympic family. It was a major victory for the government whose sports code got the approval of the IOC.

After reviewing the IOA’s amended constitution, the IOC came out with the directive to include the ‘charge-framed’ clause.  The Sports Ministry too came out in IOC’s support. The IOA’s attempts to offer diluted alternatives and references to the “law of the land” only hardened the IOC stand.  It further tightened the screws by ensuring there was no "unnecessary speculation or doubtful interpretation" of the ‘charge-framed’ clause.

The IOC for now has conditionally approved the IOA’s amended constitution but only after satisfactory implementation of the clause and elections will it consider lifting the suspension. The IOA has scheduled elections for February 9 and India will have to wait until then to get its suspension lifted.

Comments (+)