International Olympic Committee extends India’s exile

International body rejects IOA proposal,sticks to ban on chargesheeted candidates.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | Published: September 6, 2013 12:58 am

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) during its executive board meeting in Buenos Aires further extended India’s exile from the international fold after it stuck to its stand on the ethics clause,asserting that chargesheeted officials should not be allowed to contest Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections. Also Read: IOA continues to defy IOC

This single point of contention in the ethics clause that has resulted in a standoff between the IOA and the IOC threatens to leave the country and its athletes out in cold for a longer duration.

IOC categorically stated during its executive board meeting on Wednesday that the IOA has to adopt the ethics clause in its constitution in order to ensure good governance. “The Executive Board heard a report that the IOA General Assembly had approved most of the amendments to the IOA’s constitution requested by the IOC,but one specific clause had not been adopted. This clause,which deals specifically with the eligibility of members,is key to the good governance of the NOC and needs to be fully accepted before the suspended IOA can proceed with the elections. An official notification of the IOC’s position will be sent to the IOA,” the IOC said in a statement on Thursday. Also Read: We can either get reforms in IOA or go back to status-quo,says Abhinav Bindra

Not surprisingly,the aggrieved IOA officials who have vehemently opposed the point,continued to defy the IOC on Thursday as well. While Lalit Bhanot — the secretary general of the suspended IOA — said he won’t comment until the IOC sends its official communique,Abhay Singh Chautala — the president of the suspended IOA — reiterated that the IOC cannot interfere in the ‘internal matters’ and the ‘law of the land’,which bars only convicted officials from holding an official post,will be upheld.

If the IOC has its way,then the likes of Bhanot and Chautala — among a host of other officials — will be ineligible for the IOA elections.

VK Malhotra,the acting president of the IOA that is recognised by the IOC,said he would call all the involved parties for a joint meeting and hope for a logical conclusion. “We have to take some initiative. The IOC has made it clear they won’t budge. It is necessary that all of us meet and try to come up with a solution which is in best interest of everyone involved,” Malhotra said.

Sources said that if IOA continued being defiant,there was a slim chance of the IOC expelling India from the Olympic fold altogether during its three-day congress which kick-off in Buenos Aires on September 6. That would mean that Indian athletes will not be allowed to take part in any major international events,including the Olympics,Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Currently,the athletes are allowed to take part in international events under the Olympic flag.

“It is a decision that can be taken by the IOC congress. It is a possibility but whether IOC will act sternly or look for a diplomatic route remains to be seen,” the source said.

The IOC’s firm position has left the athletes,led by Abhinav Bindra,and the sports minister Jitender Singh’s stand vindicated. Jitender said his ministry will urge the IOA to incorporate the ethics clause. “I hope better sense prevails. It is very very unfortunate that some individuals’ interests took precedence over nation and the sportspersons,” he said.

In a nutshell

*The IOC urged the IOA to amend its constitution such that the officials against whom a chargesheet has been filed won’t be able to contest elections.

*The IOC said it was essential to incorporate this ‘ethics clause’ to ensure proper governance.

*The IOA,however,rejected the proposal. During its AGM on August 25,which was attended by senior IOC representatives,the IOA instead suggested that only those officials who have served two years’ prison sentence should be kept out of office.

*Consequently,the IOC on Wednesday decided against lifting India’s suspension,warning the IOA that the country will be left out of the Olympic movement until the ethics clause is adopted.

* There are three possibilities now,according to sources: a) the IOA accepts IOC’s proposal; b) IOC derecognises the IOA completely and forms an ad-hoc body to look into the affairs; c) allow the matter to drift until a diplomatic solution is reached.

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