IOA polls today, India likely to return to Olympic fold

PTI| Updated: Feb 08, 2014, 18:20 PM IST

New Delhi: Slammed by the sporting fraternity for bringing shame on the country, a beleaguered IOA will hold its much-awaited elections today which is expected to clear the decks for India`s return to the Olympic fold after 14 months of suspension by its parent body.

World Squash Federation President N Ramachandran, younger brother of BCCI chief N Srinivasan, is set to be elected unopposed as president of Indian Olympic Association in the polls which will be held after Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot were barred from contesting on the ground that they have been charge-framed by a court of law.

Kho Kho Federation of India president Rajeev Mehta and All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna will be elected unopposed as secretary general and treasurer respectively.

Chautala and Bhanot were elected as president and secretary general in the IOA polls on December 5, 2012, a day after the IOC suspended India for government interference and for allowing tainted persons in the election process. The IOC had declared the elections "null" and "void".

There will be elections only for vice-presidents tomorrow as nine candidates were left in the fray for eight posts which will be conducted in the presence of three IOC observers and a sports ministry official.

The elections, which will be conducted by a three-member election commission of the IOA, will be preceded by a Special GBM which will make an amendment in the constitution under the diktat of IOC so as to make it clear that charge-framed persons would have to cease being members of IOA besides being barred from contesting elections.

"It will be a short affair. The General Body will make a small constitutional amendment and then straightway election will start," a top IOA official told PTI.

The IOC had hinted recently that India could be brought back to the Olympic fold after the IOA elections. IOC President Thomas Bach had hinted India`s return even before the Winter Olympics which began yesterday in Sochi if the IOA held its elections before the Games.

Three Indians could not took part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics under the tri-colour due to India`s suspension by the IOC and the IOA had to draw flak from all quarters for bringing shame on the country.

Clean Sports India, a movement for a corruption-free sports in the country, also wrote a letter to the IOC questioning the inclusion of Chautala and Bhanot in the electoral college on the ground that they have been charge-framed by a court of law in India.

CSI said in view of several anomalies in the election process, the polls can be challenged in a court of law later on as the IOA is a body constituted under the Societies Registration Act.

Chautala, who cannot stand in the elections, had been authorised by his faction to choose the candidates for various posts, including those of president, secretary general and treasurer.

It is also learnt that some sort of a compromise was reached between the factions led by Chautala and IOC member in India Randhir Singh.

Randhir`s daughter Sunaina Kumari, who is currently Bowling Federation of India chief, will be one of the six joint secretaries.

Three representatives each from Indian Boxing Federation, Taekwondo Federation of India and Fencing Association of India were barred by the IOC from casting votes in tomorrow`s elections on the ground that these three NSFs have been suspended by their international federations.

The decision came after the boxing world body, AIBA recommended the IOC not to allow the IBF representatives to cast their votes.

IOC Director of NOC Relations Pere Miro, IOC Ethics Commission member Francisco J Elizalde from Philippines and Olympic Council of Asia Director General Husain Al Musallam will be the observers from the world body in the elections.

Having blatantly violated the IOC's diktats on more than one occasion throughout last year, the IOA was finally left with no option but to amend its constitution as per the world body's directives following an ultimatum that it would de-recognise India if the "charge-framed" persons are not barred from contesting polls.

De-recognition would mean that India cannot be a part of the Olympic Movement and the country's sportspersons would not be allowed to take part in any international event.

It all started 14 months ago when on December 4, 2012, the IOC suspended the IOA for adhering to the government's Sports Code and for allowing tainted persons to take part in the election process.

In an act of defiance, IOA went ahead with the polls next day. The world body refused to recognise Chautala and his team of office bearers.

The IOC later proposed a meeting with the IOA and government representatives but maintained that the Indian body must hold its elections solely under Olympic Charter to return to the Olympic fold.

After three postponements and controversy over the participation of two members representing the suspended IOA, the meeting took place on May 15 last at Lausanne, Switzerland with Sports Minister Jitendra Singh and Beijing Olympics gold winner shooter Abhinav Bindra attending it.

The IOC issued the roadmap for India's return to the Olympic fold, asking IOA to amend its constitution before July 15 and elect new office bearers by September 1 last, both under the supervision of the world body.

On August 15 last year, IOC stated that tainted persons will no longer be eligible to contest IOA elections.

But, a defiant IOA refused to implement the provision, saying that it had to follow the law of the land.

The IOA even proposed to dilute the contentious clause, saying the chargesheet clause must apply only to convicted persons.

But the IOC shot down any compromise formula and asked the IOA to sack "charge-framed" officials through constitutional amendments by October 31 and conduct fresh elections by December 15 last.

The IOC later agreed to IOA's proposal to hold elections on February 9 after IOA agreed to bar charge-framed persons from contesting the polls.