IOA set to ignore IOC warnings at GBM

Updated: Aug 24, 2013, 14:47 PM IST

New Delhi: It may put India`s return to the Olympic fold in jeopardy but the suspended IOA`s General Body Meeting here tomorrow is all set to ignore the IOC`s directive to bar chargesheeted officials from contesting elections through constitutional amendments.

The defiant move may put a spanner on the country`s return to the Olympics but IOA officials have asserted that amendments to bar corruption-tainted officials cannot be carried out as Indian law permits chargesheeted persons to contest even Parliamentary elections.

The IOC had on August 15 asked the IOA to amend its constitution incorporating the provisions to bar corruption- tainted persons from contesting elections proposed to be held next month.

It had subsequently warned of further action if the amendments were not carried out in tomorrow`s General Body Meeting.

But the IOA, led by Abhey Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot, who were elected president and Secretary General in the December 5 last elections which were not recognised by the IOC, has remained defiant.
The likes of Bhanot and V K Verma, who were chargesheeted in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam along with former IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, would not be able to contest elections if the anti-graft amendments are incorporated.

It is learnt that majority of the IOA officials are opposed to the amendments proposed by the IOC and tomorrow`s GBM may well turn out to be a mere forum where officials have a general discussion without taking any decision.

"The General Body is the highest decision making body of the IOA and it`s competent to take whatever decision the House agrees to. As of now most of the members are not in favour of several provisions proposed by the IOC," a top IOA official told PTI.

"We may discuss the amendments proposed by the IOC but a decision is unlikely. But everything will be decided by the GBM. Let us see what happens", he said.

"We respect the IOC but it has to understand that the IOA cannot go against the law of the land and Indian law permits chargesheeted persons from contesting even Parliamentary elections and an aggrieved person can approach a court of law and we will be embroiled in litigations in that situation," the official said.

The official said the IOA would explain the three representatives of the IOC, who would be attending tomorrow`s GBM, about the legal position in India.

This despite the fact that the IOC had clearly stated that India`s return in the Olympic fold could be in trouble in reply to a letter shot off by the IOA which insisted that the law of the land would prevail.

"The IOC has never questioned the principle that till one is convicted one is innocent. However, the IOC Code of Ethics clearly states that the Olympic parties (which include the NOCs) must undertake to respect and ensure the respect of the IOC Code of Ethics which says in particular that they must not act in a manner likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic Movement.

"The IOA (still suspended) must therefore act responsibly and must adopt a clear wording in its revised Constitution," the IOC stated in reply to the letter sent by IOA officials objecting to the revised draft constitution.

"The IOA is still currently suspended by the IOC for the reasons clearly indicated in the IOC Executive Board decision of 4 December 2012 notified to the IOA the same day by letter of the IOC president. I hope that the gravity of the situation has been well understood since then and the suspended IOA is now ready to act responsibly and in a unified manner to meet the conditions requested by the IOC," the world body had stated.

It is learnt that the IOA officials want to buy some time considering the fact that a new IOC President will be elected on September 7 in Buenos Aires in place of incumbent Jacques Rogge with the hope that the new head of the world body will have a sympathetic view towards the IOA.

But it remains to be seen what the three IOC observers will say in their report once they return to Lausanne.

The IOA has also been under intense pressure from the Sports Ministry and some top athletes of the country, including Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, who has backed the IOC initiative to remove corruption tainted officials and clean up sports in the country.

"The Government also supports the efforts of the IOC to strengthen ethical standards in the IOA, through a clause which stipulates that persons standing for elections as office bearers of the IOA are free from criminal charges. We hope that a solution to the impasse between the IOC and the IOA will be found during the general body meeting of the IOA," Sports Minister Jitendra Singh had said in a statement.

It will also have to be seen whether Randhir Singh and V K Malhotra, technically still the Secretary General and acting chief respectively of the IOA recognised by the IOC, will attend the meeting or not amid reports that all the Indian officials have been trying to close ranks and present a united stand before the IOC.

Randhir, on his part, said that he will attend the meeting "100 per cent".

"The constitution of the IOA is being amended. It is our duty to be there. We are all going there as one family and we should work together for the benefit of sports in the country", Randhir told PTI.

"We have to quickly complete the whole process of amending the IOA constitution and have the elections so that the suspension on IOA is revoked and the Indian athletes can participate under the national flag again", he said.

The technicality of who would chair tomorrow`s meeting has also been resolved as it is learnt that the assembled members will elect the chairman before the conclave starts.

The name of S Reghunathan, president of Kayaking and Canoeing Federation of India, is doing the rounds to chair the meeting, according to sources.