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Tenure row: Govt hardens stand, to send official to IOC

New Delhi: Unfazed by the strong reaction to its controversial guideline on tenure limitation of sports
bosses, the Government today sought to clear the roadblocks on
its implementation by sending a senior official to deal with
the IOC even as worried administrators met the Prime Minister
to seek his intervention on the issue.

A day after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) warned
that government interference may invite an international ban
on the country, the Sports Ministry hit back by deciding to
directly interact with the International Olympic Committee on
the issue, a move which is being interpreted as hardening of
stance.

The government said it would send a detailed response and
offered to send an official to IOC headquarters in Lausanne,
Switzerland, to discuss the matter.

"Government is immediately sending to the highest
authorities in IOC, a detailed response on the matter," said
an official statement issued today.

"Government is also proposing to IOC that in order to
have a thorough and conclusive discussion on the subject,
Government would be deputing a senior official, to the IOC
headquarters, at a mutually convenient date to sort out the
matter across the table," it added.

The Sports Ministry`s move came after the IOA flaunted
letters of support from the IOC and the Olympic Council of
Asia which warned India of dire consequences in case of
governmental interference.

The day unfolded with sports bosses, many of whom are
parliamentarians, meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
seeking his intervention in the matter.

"The PM told us that he will look into the matter and get
back to us. If you fiddle with the autonomy, you get into
trouble. If IOC imposes sanctions it can bring to a standstill
all sports activity in the country," IOA president Suresh
Kalmadi told reporters.

Apart from Kalmadi, the 20-member delegation included IOA
Secretary General Randhir Singh, Archery Association of India
chief V K Malhotra and All India Football Federation president
Praful Patel.

Kalmadi yet again lashed out at Sports Minister M S Gill
for the timing of the move.

"Dr Gill should have come up with this idea after the
Commonwealth Games. The timing (of the sports ministry`s move)
was not good," he said.

The Sports Ministry subsequently retaliated as it singled
out Randhir Singh for his "conflict of interests". "It has to be regrettably emphasised that Randhir Singh,
who is an independent member from India on the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), has clearly a conflict of interest on
the tenure issue, in view of his 23-year-long continuous
tenure as Secretary General, Indian Olympic Association(IOA),"
it said.

"Further, it is noted with regret, that the IOC member
did not consult Government before approaching IOC. The IOC too
did not seek any inputs from Government before its NOC
Relations Director sent the letter to Randhir Singh, who,
in turn, has sent it to Government in his dual capacity," it
added.

The government maintained the regulation came after the
Delhi High Court had criticised the Sports Ministry for its
inaction in implementing the guideline introduced back in
1975.

"The Court categorically stated that the tenure
regulations were valid, binding and enforceable and could not
be blocked by executive instructions. The Court also ruled
that these regulations were not in violation of the Olympic
Charter," the statement said.

The government said there was a consensus in the
parliament on the regulation and pointed out that it would
apply from the next elections of the NSFs, including IOA, most
of which are scheduled after 2011.

Sports administrators are up in arms against the new
regulation which says National Sports Federation (NSF)
presidents cannot continue for more than 12 years, with or
without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve
eight years at a stretch but would have to take a four-year
break before seeking a reelection.

The new regulation seeks to end the long stay of NSF
chiefs like Kalmadi, VK Malhotra (archery), Jagdish Tytler
(judo), VK Verma (badminton), BS Adityan (volleyball) and SS
Dhindsa (cycling) among others.

PTI

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IOC

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