Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Wheels within wheels: Story behind India’s delayed return to Olympic fold

A plaque at the Indian Olympic Association Bhawan in New Delhi shows Abhay Singh Chautala as the president. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia) A plaque at the Indian Olympic Association Bhawan in New Delhi shows Abhay Singh Chautala as the president. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia)
Written by Vinayak Bhushan Padmadeo | New Delhi | Posted: January 12, 2014 2:06 am | Updated: January 12, 2014 12:39 pm

There’s more to India’s long-winding return to the Olympic fold after it was ousted by the international body in December 2012, than meets the eye. Vinayak Padmadeo accesses correspondence between different actors involved in this drama, and reveals politicking, squabbles.

It’s been over a year since the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Not before February 9, when the Indian body is to hold fresh elections and amend its constitution, can the IOA return to the Olympic fold.

However, from documents accessed by The Sunday Express, it has emerged that several members involved in the movement to get India back in the Olympics were not on the same page, which was one of the major reasons the reconciliation process was delayed.

The suspension will end within days of IOA’s general body meeting on February 9, if it ratifies all the amendments, including the charged-framed clause, and elects a new body.

These changes could have been incorporated earlier if all concerned members were to sit down and find a deal but the suspension only set the stage for a turf war between members of the IOA, IOC’s representative in India and Clean Sports India, a body constituting Olympians like Ashwini Nachappa, which came into being to help end the Olympic ban.

A stash of emails have been put on record as a part of the minutes of the IOA meeting held in New Delhi on December 8, 2013.

It includes email correspondence between IOC’s India representative Randhir Singh and Clean Sports India convener BVP Rao, and the IOC officials. According to Hockey India general secretary Narinder Batra, who was given the responsibility by the federations to negotiate with the IOC after the suspension, the IOC’s Indian representative was doing his best to stall the reconciliation. Randhir Singh, IOC’s member in India, on the other hand, claims he was acting only as a representative of the international body and his intentions were to get a cleaner body, rid of charge-sheeted members, in place at the IOA.

The IOC suspended the IOA in December 2012 for failing to comply with the Olympic charter, just days ahead of an election that would have seen the scam-tainted duo of Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot being elected unopposed into top positions.

After the suspension, the IOA repeatedly tried to side-step the charge-framed clause, but the international body would have none of it. It was only when the IOC threatened to bar Indian athletes from contesting in the Rio Olympics that IOA finally decided to implement the required changes in its charter.

The Correspondence

On August 8, 2013, Rakesh Gupta of the Indian Triathlon Federation wrote to IOA to share sports memorabilia for the continued…

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