There was drama, protests and a lot of discussions in the Special General Body meeting of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) here on Sunday but a status quo looked imminent as far as its suspension was concerned.
The meeting, which had International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives as observers — Francisco J. Elizalde, member of its ethics committee, Jérôme Poivey, head of institutional relations at the IOC’s National Olympic Committees relations department and Haider Farman, director of Asian Games in the OCA — rejected most of the IOC demands while introducing certain amendments to placate the parent body.
The most contentious issue, of barring charge-sheeted officials from contesting elections, remained a sore point. While the IOC had asked for all those with criminal charges to be kept out, the IOA has proposed setting up an Ethics Commission instead.
“We have proposed that those convicted for two years or more will be either automatically disqualified from elections or expelled, if already elected. Charge-sheeted persons and cases with conviction of less than two years will be referred to the Ethics Commission, which will take a decision within 60 days,” said S. Regunathan, who chaired the meeting in the absence of the recognised acting president Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra. The commission will report to the IOA Executive Council.
If accepted, it would allow the likes of Lalit Bhanot and Suresh Kalmadi eligible to contest.
Several other issues were also discussed but the IOA looked unwilling to accede to the IOC’s demands. An agreement has been reached on the age and tenure issue — 70 years and three terms for the president, two terms for the secretary general and the treasurer — but the decision, Regunathan said, would not be applicable retrospectivelyThe meeting constituted a three-member Election Commission consisting of Retired High Court judges M.R. Kalra, S.N. Sapra and Lokeshwar Prasad. Earlier, around 50 demonstrators from Clean Sports India gathered at the venue of the meeting to protest against the tainted sports officials.
Sports Ministry welcomes amendments
The Sports Ministry has welcomed the proposed amendments to the Indian Olympic Association constitution, bringing it in line with the Sports Code, but cautioned against any dilution of ethical standards in the process.
The minister also sought alternate options to allow Indian sportspersons to compete under the National Flag, in case the dispute between IOC and IOA was not resolved soon.