IOA: Infighting Olympic Associations

The Indian Express finds out that a number of federations are embroiled in internal bickering that could hamper preparations for next year's Rio Games.

By: Express News Service | Updated: May 6, 2015 11:35 am
IOC president Thomas Bach IOC president Thomas Bach. (Source: Reuters)

On his recent visit to Delhi, IOC president Thomas Bach had a curt message for the squabbling Indian Olympic Association: “Stop fighting, stay united”. Within days of the statement, a section within the IOA was waging an all-out war against its president N Ramachandran. And this isn’t the only sports body in the country whose officials are involved in a bitter struggle.

The Indian Express finds out that a number of federations are embroiled in internal bickering that could hamper preparations for next year’s Rio Games.

Indian Olympic Association

Barely 15 months before the Olympics, IOA president N Ramachandran is on sticky wicket. His rivals claim to have the necessary numbers to pass a no-confidence motion against him. Ramachandran is accused of not consulting the IOA members on key issues and it reached tipping point when he ‘secretly’ met and invited IOC president Thomas Bach in Lausanne.

Boxing

India’s boxing officials continue to throw punches at each other. Last week, the newly-formed Boxing India committee ousted its president Sandeep Jajodia and secretary Jay Kowli. The ‘coup’ was allegedly staged by Abhay Singh Chautala, who is keen to return to power in the boxing federation. The shabby governance has directly impacted training.

Archery

The Archery Association of India has been suspended by the sports ministry since December 2012 for violating age and tenure guidelines during its elections. VK Malhotra, president, has served for more than three consecutive terms in the past and is also above the age of 70 years, which is against the government’s guidelines. The federation does not get funded by government.

Tennis

The All India Tennis Association has been on the loggerheads with the sports ministry over Anil Khanna’s tenure as the federation president. The ministry wants Khanna, who served as AITA secretary between 2000 and 2012 and elected president for 2012 to 2016 term, to step down as it flouted their age and tenure policy. The AITA is now mulling legal course.

Paralympics

The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) has been suspended by both, the International Paralympic Committee as well as the sports ministry. The world governing body came down heavily on PCI for an internal squabble, terming the situation ‘chaotic for several years’.  The govt, punished them for ‘poor conduct’ of  National para athletics championship.

Pressure builds on IOA chief

N RAMACHANDRAN’S days as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief seem to be numbered as two more sports federations and state Olympic associations have joined the chorus to demand his ouster.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) and Modern Pentathlon along with Bihar and Uttar Pradesh state Olympic associations wrote a letter to the IOA on Tuesday, seeking a no-confidence motion against Ramachandran by calling a Special General Meeting (SGM).

The move to remove Ramachandran is fast gathering pace since Hockey India president Narinder Batra initiated it last week following International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach’s one-day visit to New Delhi.

Hockey India was joined by the Bowling Federation of India and Jharkhand Olympic Association in demanding Ramachandran’s removal. On Tuesday, BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta and general secretary Vijai Sinha demanded the same.

“As per Rule VIII (i) and (ii) of IOA Constitution, we Badminton Association of India are moving a vote of no confidence against Mr N Ramachandran, president IOA,” the BAI officials wrote in a letter that was addressed to the IOA president, secretary general and treasurer.

“We request you to convene the Special General Meeting (SGM) of IOA at the earliest to discuss on the vote of no confidence against Mr N Ramachandran, president IOA.”

Das Gupta is currently one of the vice-presidents of the IOA.

He is also the president of the Uttar Pradesh Olympic Association. Bihar Olympic Association secretary Md Mushtaque Ahmad, who is the secretary general of Hockey India, also confirmed that his state unit has demanded a no-confidence motion against the IOA chief. More federations are likely to follow suit in the coming days.

According to the IOA constitution, a no-confidence motion against the president, secretary general, treasurer and other executive council members can be passed if two-third majority of the members are present and voting.

The quorum for such a meeting will have to be three-fourths of the total strength of the IOA General Body entitled to vote.

For how long Ramachandran manages to hold on to his seat remains to be seen. He continues to enjoy the backing of Abhay Singh Chautala, who has a huge say in the day-to-day functioning of the IOA despite not being directly involved.

But Chautala too is under pressure from his associates to act against Ramachandran.

An SGM may be convened at any time by the IOA president or the Executive Council or on a written requisition signed by presidents and secretaries of not less than 50 per cent member units within one month from the date of receipt by the president of the said requisition. If the president of the IOA fails to convene a meeting, then the petitioners can convene the meeting under arrangements made directly by them.

The IOA General Body has 183 votes in total — three each for NSFs and two each for state Olympic bodies. The infighting among the top brass of the IOA, which came out of a 14-month suspension only last year, got exposed just days after Bach’s first visit to the country after taking over as IOC chief in 2013.

Call for unity

In his one-day whirlwind visit on April 27, Bach had called for unity among the IOA members so they can work together for the betterment of Indian sports and sportspersons. He has also laid to rest the speculation that India may bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Discontent against Ramachandran had been brewing for quite some time now with many members feeling the IOA chief was running the show all by himself without consulting other officials. Ramachandran’s move to keep the IOA office bearers, including secretary general Rajiv Mehta, in the dark while he coordinated Bach’s trip to India with the sports ministry directly was the final straw in the relationship between him and the IOA members.

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