After playing hardball for a day over his appointment as life president of the Indian Olympic Association, Abhay Chautala seemed to soften his stand a bit as he agreed to step down if the International Olympic Committee has reservations about it.
Former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, who had been appointed alongwith Chautala at an AGM in Chennai on Tuesday, declined the post less than 24 hours later, but Chautala had remained defiant.
But after the sports ministry slapped a show-cause notice on IOA and announced that it will have no dealings with it till the appointments were reversed, and even some IOA members expressed their displeasure, the Haryana Olympic Association president seems to have relented, but with conditions.
“I wish to thank the IOA for nominating me to the ceremonial position of Lifetime President and I have already informed the President IOA, through a separate letter, that if IOC is not favourably inclined to my taking over as Hon. Life President after the (IOA) President has had an opportunity of discussing this matter personally with IOC, I will be pleased to sacrifice my position in the best interest of Indian sports, sportspersons, good Governance, transparency and cleanliness in India sports,” Chautala, who has been charge-sheeted in a disproportionate assets case, said in a statement.
He asked IOA president N Ramachandran to meet IOC officials to sort out the matter.
“I am given to understand that in the AGM of Guwahati in 2015, where I was not present, IOA had resolved that certain amendments which have only been made in India and are not applicable to other countries should be taken up by IOA with IOC. The AGM in Chennai was informed that IOC was extremely busy with Olympics and, therefore, this matter could not be discussed for a period of one year.
“I have noted that the AGM (in Chennai) has now requested the President to take up this matter with IOC to have a complete understanding on whether people who have been chargesheeted under Indian Law, for political reasons not connected with sports, can be kept away from active management of sports or not. The AGM has given three months’ time to the President to discuss this matter with IOC,” Chautala said.
The Haryana strongman said he has already sacrificed once when he had to step down after his election to the post
of IOA president prompted the IOC to de-recognise the Indian body. He claimed that the amendment in the IOA constitution barring chargesheeted individuals from contesting elections was the handiwork of “vested interests”.
“I have always served sports selflessly and will do everything for promotion of sportspersons and sports. Although I was elected President of IOA in 2012, I decided to sacrifice this position in 2013 when vested interests from within India were able to influence an amendment to IOA Constitution. On account of this amendment, I decided to relinquish the post of President IOA in the best interest of Indian Sports,” Chautala claimed.
He highlighted the workdone during his time at the helm of the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, and the medals won by India at the Olympics.
“We have very fond memories of Vijender Singh becoming the first bronze medallist in boxing in 2008 in Beijing Olympics when I was President of IABF. I was also pleased that Mary Kom won a bronze medal in 2012 London Olympics. Indian boxers brought laurel by winning medals in all 10 weight categories, including six gold medals in CWG 2010. Indian boxers constantly won medals in almost all of the major multi–disciplinary Games and International Boxing Championships during my tenure as IABF President.”
Chautala also used the opportunity to take potshots at sports minister Vijay Goel, who had termed the appointments “unacceptable” and asked both sports administrators to either resign or the IOA to remove them. He raked up the controversy of Goel’s conduct during the 2016 Rio OLympics.
“I am personally aware of the conduct of the Minister of Sports at Rio Olympics where IOC had questioned the behaviour of the minister and his associates and threatened to withdraw his accreditation. I do not wish to dwell more on this subject as I do not want to embarrass the minister as well as the Sports Movement in India. If necessary, I will brief the Prime Minister on this issue of Rio Olympics,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deadline for replying to the sports ministry’s show-cause notice expires on Friday, but IOA said it will first consult IOC on the matter. “The IOA president is out of the country, he is in New Zealand. We are not replying tomorrow on the show-cause,” an IOA official was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Moreover, we cannot directly reply to a show-cause notice like this. Under the Olympic Charter, the IOA enjoys autonomy and independence from government interference. We will first consult with the IOC on this notice before thinking of replying,” he said. “Normally, we would not have replied on such a notice, but may do so after consultation with the IOC.”