IOC issues final warning to IOA

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued final warning to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to accept the changes made in the revised draft constitution of the IOA.

The IOA bosses have refused to accept some changes suggested by the IOA. Tenure clause being one among them.

However, the IOC has clearly instructed the IOA to put athletes before self. This tussle between the IOA and IOC has put India’s participation in the Olympics at risk.

Earlier on Thursday, in a development of far reaching consequences, corruption-tainted persons will no longer be eligible to contest Indian Olympic Association elections under the changes made in the revised draft constitution of the IOA sent by its parent body, International Olympic Committee.

In a 43-page draft revised Constitution, the world body laid down the provisions concerning the election process of the IOA, setting up of three key commissions, voting rights of the National Sports Federations and state Olympic bodies and the contentious age and tenure rules, among others.

Concerning the election of Executive Council members, the revised draft Constitution said, "To be eligible as an office-bearer or member of the Executive Council, a member must: be a citizen of India; be in full possession of his/her civil rights; not face charges framed against him/her by any court in India, in respect of a criminal or corruption offense which would be punishable with imprisonment if he/she was convicted; not have been convicted of any criminal or corruption offense."

It further said that when charges were framed against members of IOA General Council, Executive Council, Committees or Commissions, in a criminal or corruption case, he will be provisionally suspended from IOA and should be automatically expelled in case he was convicted.

"When charges are framed against an individual member of IOA General Council/Executive Council/Committees or Commissions by any court in India, in respect of a serious criminal or corruption offense which would be punishable with imprisonment if the person were convicted, he/she shall be provisionally suspended from IOA until a final ruling is made.

"When an individual member of IOA General Council/ Executive Council/Committees or Commissions has been convicted of a criminal or corruption offense, and ruling is final, he/she must be automatically expelled from IOA," the draft revised Constitution sent along with a letter by Jerome Poivey, IOC Head of Institutional Relations and Governance NOC Relations Department to Indian officials, said.

This provision will effectively mean that officials like Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma who had been chargesheeted in connection with 2010 Commonwealth Games scam will not be able to contest IOA elections.

Kalmadi has decided not to stand for election of any sports-related post in the country after he was forced out of the IOA president`s post in the wake of the 2010 CWG scam.

Bhanot was elected as Secretary General in the IOA elections held on December 5 last, just a day after the national sports apex body was banned by the IOC which later declared the polls as null and void.

But interestingly, the IOC has left it to the discretion of the IOA whether to include age and tenure restrictions in the Constitution, a development which may run into collision with the Sports Code of the government.

"Office-bearers and Members of Executive Council of the Association shall be elected for a term not exceeding four (4) years as per the procedure for elections defined in Bye-law 1 to the Rules," the revised draft Constitution said.

But in the comments made by the IOC in this connection in the revised draft, the world body said, "As mentioned on numerous occasions, please note that the decision to include (or not) tenure restrictions is left entirely to the IOA. In this regard, the IOC would have no objection in principle with the wording proposed by IOA members provided that it is accepted by the IOA General Meeting on 25 August 2013.

"However, if the IOA decides to include any such restrictions, we strongly believe that -- to avoid any unnecessary complications and potential interpretation -- such restrictions should apply not only to the President, Secretary General and Treasurer but also to ALL office bearers and members of the Executive Council," it said.

The IOC said that "these restrictions must not apply retroactively and shall therefore be applicable for the future (as from the adoption of this revised Constitution by the IOA General Meeting).

"... Please note that the decision to include (or not) an age limit is left entirely to the IOA. In this regard, the IOC would have no objection with the wording proposed by IOA members as long as this is confirmed by the IOA General Meeting on 25 August 2013."

Poivey said that the revised draft was "the result of a
broad consultation with you (Indian officials) but also within the IOC and with the IOC`s partners in Olympic Movement .... and based on the IOA Constitution currently in force"

"A number of amendments, proposals submitted by the IOC itself (following a consultation within the IOC, which has involved in particular the IOC Legal Department and the IOC Ethics Commission, and with the IOC`s partners in the Olympic Movement) in order in particular to improve significantly the governance of the IOA in the future," he said in the letter.

"... The whole work has been coordinated by the IOC in order to move the process forward and assist as much as possible the IOA in fulfilling the conditions which would be necessary for the IOC to consider lifting the suspension."

He said that Indian officials should revert to the IOC by August 16 noon (Swiss time) if they have any comments on the revised draft so that the world body provide its opinion before its circulation to all IOA members in view of the IOA Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for August 25.

Reacting to IOC`s revised draft Constitution of the IOA, B V P Rao, the Convener of Clean Sports India, a movement for corruption-free sports in the country, said, "IOC has sent the amendments on the Independence Day as a gift to the sportsmen and Olympic family of India who were fed up of corruption in sports."

The revised draft also provides for the setting up of Athletes Commission, Arbitration Commission and Ethics Commission.

It also reduced the number of votes to be cast by the National Sports Federations in the IOA elections from the current three to two and that of state Olympic bodies from the current two to one.

Two (one male and one female) active athletes or retired athletes having taken part in the Olympic Games will also have the voting rights in the IOA elections. These two athlete representatives shall be elected by and from the IOA Athletes Commission established as per the IOC guidelines.

The retired athletes must, however, quit from their posts latest by the end of the third Olympiad after the last Olympic Games in which they took part.

The national federation of Kho-Kho will also have two votes in the elections while the IOC member in India, two representatives from the Athletes Commission, Union Territories Olympic Associations and Service Sports Promotion Board will have one vote each.

The IOC also said that the elections shall be held at least once every four years when due at an Annual or Special General Meeting to elect the Executive Council and the votes cast by NSFs affiliated to International Federations governing sports included in the programme of the Olympic Games or their representatives in accordance with the Olympic Charter should have voting majority.

A three-member Independent Election Commission will also be elected by the General Meeting immediately preceding the Elective General Meeting in order to conduct, monitor and supervise the election process.

The three members of the Election Commission must be elected from amongst independent, impartial and unquestionable personalities having a legal background, must not be candidate for any position, and must have no interest in the election process. Once elected the three members of the Election Commission shall immediately elect a Chairman of the Commission from among themselves.

The IOC said that "to avoid any potential conflict of interest, the members of the independent Election Commission shall not be appointed by the outgoing President or Executive Council; however shall be elected by the General Meeting prior to the elections from amongst independent, impartial and unquestionable personalities having a legal background."

The revised draft also pruned down the number of Executive Council members to 19 or 20, similar to that of the IOC, with a view to bring good governance in the IOA.

With PTI inputs

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