It ends where it all began. Suresh Kalmadi,who began his career as sports administrator in Pune,had laid low ever since he was jailed for his alleged involvement in the Commonwealth Games corruption scandal. He had dissociated himself from the daily affairs of the Indian Olympic Association and other federations before stepping aside altogether.
Kalmadi saw the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) election as a chance to make a comeback. Seen as an inclusive leader,he had most of the Asian members under his umbrella. In fact,several AAA and International Olympic Committee members enjoyed Kalmadis hospitality at his Kamaraj Lane residence. No wonder he was confident of staging a win on his home turf.
But Dahlan Jumaan Al Hamad had other plans. The Qatari,supported by the Gulf nations,managed to get the backing of powerhouses China and Japan at the last moment,tilting the balance in his favour. For someone who had been elected to the post unopposed twice,Mondays result showed the extent to which the CWG scam had dented Kalmadis credibility globally.
The defeat would bring a sense of deja vu to Kalmadi. In 2000,he staged a coup of sorts against the then AAA president Mohammad Hasan in his own backyard,Jakarta. Thirteen years later,the tables have turned,and he had been humbled in his own den,Pune.
The result could mark the end of the 69-year-old Congress MPs career as an active sports administrator. Kalmadi has already resigned from all sports federations in the country,including the IOA. However,he will automatically become a life president of the AAA,an honorary post given to all past presidents,and can attend the continental bodys congress without any voting rights. He will continue to be a member of the International Amateur Athletics Federation till 2015 but will no longer be Asias representative.
Domestically,there seems to be no way back for Kalmadi. With the sports ministry making it mandatory for all federations to have a ethics committee,it will be tough for him to make a comeback technically and legally. But then,if theres anyone who can find loopholes and wriggle through them,it is Kalmadi.
Mihir is a senior correspondent based in Mumbai
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