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Indian Olympic Association acts tough, suspends IHF

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stern ACTIoN: IOA President Suresh Kalmadi announcing the decision to suspend the IHF, as Secretary-General Randhir Singh looks on, in New Delhi on Monday.
stern ACTIoN: IOA President Suresh Kalmadi announcing the decision to suspend the IHF, as Secretary-General Randhir Singh looks on, in New Delhi on Monday.

Special Correspondent

Emergency meeting of the IOA Executive Committee resolved to form an ad hoc body

NEW DELHI: Hemmed in by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the Union Government, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Monday announced the suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and named a selection committee headed by Aslam Sher Khan.

In what was a historic decision of far-reaching import, an emergency meeting of the IOA Executive Committee, came to the unanimous view that the recent happenings in hockey had brought discredit to the country and the IHF had to be suspended forthwith.

It was further resolved that the IOA President would form a five-member ad hoc committee to run the affairs of hockey till such time the issues were resolved.

No time frame was mentioned, though some of the members said that the ad hoc body that was yet to be formed, would be in place for only six months.

A selection committee comprising Olympians Aslam Sher Khan, Ashok Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, Zafar Iqbal and Dhanraj Pillay was formed as part of the resolution.

It was also resolved that Australian Ric Charlesworth would be advisor to the selection committee.

Keeping IOA body informed

The IOA General Assembly would be informed of “all the developments" at its next meeting that is expected to come off sometime in October this year.

What really clinched the issue against the IHF was apparently a letter written by the FIH Secretary-General, Peter L. Cohen, to the IOA President, Suresh Kalmadi urging the IOA to take action.

Mr. Kalmadi who briefed the media after the meeting said that the decision had to be taken in the interest of the sport. He described it as a "very painful decision" taken under pressure from the FIH that had threatened to take away the 2010 World Cup from Delhi that could have sent out a "bad message before the Commonwealth Games" which the city was to host.

Mr. Kalmadi said that both IHF President K.P.S. Gill and Secretary-General K. Jothikumaran were invited to attend the meeting.

Mr. Gill attended, while Mr. Jothikumaran did not report. "We wanted to hear him (Jothikumaran). It was an opportunity to present his case," said Mr. Kalmadi.

(However, Mr. Jothikumaran said in Chennai that he had not got a letter from the IOA for the meeting even though he is a member of the IOA Executive. “I was not given a chance to explain,” Jothikumar said in his reaction.)

There was no mention of the incidents that led to the decision or the ‘sting’ operation by a news channel that resulted in Mr. Jothikumaran’s resignation as the Secretary-General.

"We expressed concern over the ‘sting’ operation", said Mr. Kalmadi.

"We have reacted to the media, MPs and the views of the IOA" in taking the decision to suspend the IHF, Mr. Kalmadi said.

Gill’s explanation

Mr. Gill who sat through the meeting and did not oppose the resolution, explained the implications of the ‘sting’ operation. He was given an opportunity to leave the meeting when the members began speaking and urging ‘action’ in the light of the recent developments involving Mr. Jothikumaran. Mr. Gill, according to a member, preferred to remain at the meeting.

Mr. Kalmadi said that only about seven to eight members of the Executive were absent and among 20-odd members who spoke, none was opposed to the resolution to suspend IHF.

The FIH Secretary-General’s letter stated: "The recent allegations in the Indian Press concerning alleged improper conduct by the Hon. Secretary General of the Indian Hockey Confederation are a cause for very great concern. The FIH has invested very significant resources in the project ’Promoting Indian Hockey’. If the allegations are true, there would be negative impact on the project and the decision by the FIH to consider holding the men’s World Cup in 2010 in Delhi, India, would be placed in serious jeopardy.

"The FIH believes that immediate and decisive action on the part of all authorities in India, especially the IOA, is required to ensure that the whole matter is investigated and appropriate action taken.

"Time is of the essence. FIH urges IOA to intervene and ensure that appropriate action is taken to guarantee the administration of the Indian Hockey Confederation and Indian hockey. FIH remains committed to the success of the project and supports you in your actions."

(Though the FIH letter mentioned Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC), it was clear that the reference was to Mr. Jothikumaran).

Expressing anguish

The FIH had through various media statements in recent times expressed its anguish over the inaction of the IHF in the project as well as in matters related to the conduct of the World Cup and had threatened to take it away.

Faced with the issue of finding a suitable clause in its constitution to intervene in the matter the IOA eventually went for a rule under the powers and duties of the General Assembly.

The relevant clause (A-xviii) says: To take disciplinary action against any National Sports Federation/Association for misbehaviour or any other undesirable activity bringing discredit to the country."

The President and the Executive having the power to deal with all matters during the interval between general meetings, it was deemed that such a procedure would meet all requirements.

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