Tussle over guidelines on tenure of sports federation office-bearers

On a day when Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi led a delegation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek his intervention in the issue of government guidelines, the Union Sports Ministry announced that it would send a senior official to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Lausanne, to discuss the matter.

The IOC had intervened in the ongoing tussle between the IOA and the Ministry over restoration of a 1975 government guideline that restricted the tenure of office-bearers of the National Sports Federations (NSFs), including the IOA.

In a defiant stand, the IOA said on Monday it would reject the guidelines and resist any attempt by the government to encroach on its autonomy and that of the federations.

Manmohan apprised

On Wednesday, the Kalmadi-led delegation apprised Dr. Singh of the developments and gave him a copy of the IOC letter, which categorically stated that any attempt to meddle with the autonomy of the sports bodies could attract sanctions on the National Olympic Committee (NOC), including suspension.

“The Prime Minister told us that he would look into the matter and get back to us. If you fiddle with the autonomy you get into trouble. If the IOC imposes sanctions, it can bring to a standstill all sports activity in the country,” Mr. Kalmadi told journalists after meeting Dr. Singh at his Parliament House office.

Mr. Kalmadi said Sports Minister M.S. Gill could have come up with these regulations after the Commonwealth Games. The timing was not good, according to him, especially since a Commonwealth Games Co-ordination Committee meeting, attended by foreign delegates, was in session in the city.

By evening, the Sports Ministry issued an official release stating the government would send a detailed response (to the IOC letter addressed to IOC member Randhir Singh and forwarded to the Ministry) to the highest authorities in the IOC.

The 1975 guideline has been modified in a recent government order to allow a federation president a maximum of 12 years at the helm. Several sports officials, including Mr. Kalmadi, Vijay Kumar Malhotra (Archery Association) and Jagdish Tytler (Judo Federation) have exceeded the cap.

The government has, however, stated that in view of the Commonwealth Games, those in office could continue until elections were due.

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