Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Secretary-General of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Randhir Singh has asked the Olympic family in the country to “rise above petty politics and self projection.”

Apparently distancing himself from the ongoing tussle for power in Hockey India as well as endorsing the perception of the public and the Union Sports Ministry that the National Sports Federations (NSFs) lacked transparency in their functioning, and their selection policies were not above board, Randhir chose to release a copy of his January 28 letter to the IOA affiliates to the media on Monday.

The timing of the letter and its release, coming as it did even as the IOA and the NSFs were getting increasingly uncomfortable with the “interference” from the Sports Ministry, assume added significance.

Randhir told The Hindu on Monday that his only aim was to warn the NSFs that there could be Government interference when there was lack of transparency and they should concentrate on good governance in order to project a healthy image of the Olympic Movement.

“There is no rift in the Olympic family,” said IOA President Suresh Kalmadi. He said soon the IOA would come out with a statement on the issue.

“We are all agreeable to the proposition that there should be transparency and accountability in our functioning. This is what the K. P. Singh Deo panel has also stated,” Kalmadi said.

Transparency

Randhir stated in his letter that the Olympic Movement had to show the sports fraternity transparency in its working apart from having free and fair selection of sportspersons.

He also said that there should be proper auditing of accounts and balance sheets should be put up on websites.

For proper selection criteria

Randhir called for fixing proper selection criteria and involvement of former international sportspersons in selection committees. (Something that has already been stipulated in the Government guidelines and that had been followed by all major NSFs for several years with international sportspersons being appointed as observers by the ministry).

He wanted rankings of sportspersons to be released in advance so as to avoid too many selection trials for international competitions (an apparent reference to recent shooting selection controversy).

The IOA Secretary-General, who is also the lone International Olympic Committee (IOC) member in India and is also the Secretary-general of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), also wanted close monitoring of the sportspersons with their welfare to be kept in mind.

Surprisingly, after having listed all these points, Randhir went on to write: “If we look at the above mentioned points you will realise that most of us are already following these guidelines in our sports management.”

“Then why the hue and cry against us,” he posed and answered: “Reason is we must rise above petty politics and self projection.”

Damage to image

Dictated to by the Government especially on hockey matters since it’s formed Hockey India last May, uncomfortable against recent allegations by the hockey fraternity against Kalmadi, and with several recent court rulings going against it, the IOA had suffered considerable damage to its image in recent weeks.

Randhir’s observations in his letter have given a new twist to the “autonomy” issue, if nothing else, since his position as the IOC member is being viewed as crucial in any posturing that IOA may adopt on “government interference”.

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