Sports Minister Vijay Goel on Tuesday lashed out at the Indian Olympic Association for making tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents of the sports body, saying it was “totally unacceptable” as both of them were facing serious criminal and corruption charges.
Kalmadi and Chautala were on Tuesday made Life Presidents by the IOA at its Annual General Meeting in Chennai.
“We are shocked at the resolution passed by the IOA to make Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents of IOA. This is totally unacceptable to us as both of them are facing serious corruption and criminal charges,” Goel told reporters at a hurriedly-called press conference at his residence in New Delhi.
“In fact, IOA was suspended by the IOC when Chautala and Lalit Bhanot were elected office bearers of the IOA and the suspension was lifted only when the two were removed from the management,” the minister said, hours after the IOA took the decision to make Kalmadi and Chautala as Life Presidents.
Kalmadi served as IOA president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games corruption scandal but later released on bail.
Chautala served as the president of Indian Olympic Association from December 2012 to February 2014 when the IOA was suspended by the parent International Olympic Committee for fielding charge-sheeted candidates at the elections. His election as IOA chief was annulled by the IOC.
Only after the IOA Constitution was amended to ensure that charge-framed candidates are not allowed to contest elections, the IOC revoked the suspension on IOA in February 2014.
Goel said that the ministry has sought details from the IOA and will take appropriate action after getting a report from the IOA top brass.
“We have sought details (from the IOA) and on receipt of a complete report, we shall review the situation and take appropriate action. Our government is committed to good governance and transparency in sports,” Goel said.
“Sports is for public good and sports governance is a public function. Therefore, it is governed by public law,” he added.
“Nothing is bigger than the government. The government will see how and when there will be interference, so that these people against whom criminal and corruption cases are pending are not associated with sports. We will take steps which are necessary.”
IOA Vice-President Tarlochan Singh said that the IOA does not need approval from anybody to name any person as its Life President and Tuesday’s decision was taken “unanimously” by the General House.
“IOA General Body does not need any clearance from anybody to appoint any person a life president or patron. It was within the rights of the IOA. Moreover, all the past presidents have been made Life Presidents or Patrons,” Tarlochan told PTI.
“It was a unanimous decision of the General House of the IOA. A LIfe President is an honorary post. It has no office, no power and does not involved in the day-to-day functioning of the IOA. I don’t see any problem in this decision,” he said.
Pune-born Kalmadi, also a former Congress Member of Parliament, was a powerful sports officials in his heydays. He was the president of Asian Athletics Association for 13 years from 2000 to 2013. He was made Life President of the Asian athletics body last year.
Kalmadi, now 72, was also a member of the powerful ruling council of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) from 2001 to 2013.
Chautala had served as president of erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation whose recognition was terminated by the world body AIBA in 2013 for possible manipulation in IABF elections.
Recently, he was elected as president of one rival faction of the Haryana Olympic Association, which was later given recognition by the IOA.