New Delhi: Terming the government's claim of allocating grants to IOA as "misleading", the top sports body has asked the Sports Ministry to stop the practice as the money was only meant for meeting the expenses of the athletes during the multi-sporting events.
The Sports Ministry does not normally give grants to the IOA but it bears the expenditure incurred on items like air passage, accommodation, ceremonial kit and playing kit for participation of Indian contingent in Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
In a statement issued on December 22, the ministry said that it had released Rs 2,28,48,524 as grants to the IOA in 2012-13 and Rs 16,93,44,359 in 2014-15 for expenditure incurred on these items.
The IOA's grouse is that the ministry has taken advantage of this practice to the extent that it has asserted before the courts that the government can enforce the Sports Code on the national sports apex body on the ground that it receives grants from it.
The IOA, which has been at loggerheads for some time with the government on the implementation of the Sports Code, said that it was mulling asking the Ministry to disburse the expenses to be incurred by the athletes taking part in multi-sporting events directly to them individually and not through it.
"It's a misleading practice. Whatever grants the ministry used to show in the government circulars are only meant for the expenses incurred by the athletes for taking part in multi-sporting events. How can it be called a grant to the IOA?" asked the IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta.
"IOA does not get any single penny and benefit from the so-called grants of Sports Ministry. Everybody knows all these flight bookings and other arrangements are done by private agencies and IOA is just an intermediary," he told PTI.
Mehta said that it had already written to the Sports Ministry to stop this practice six months back and the House of the IOA endorsed the move in its Annual General Meeting held in Guwahati on December 23.
"The Sports Ministry claims before courts that since the IOA was getting grants from the government, the Sports Code should be applied to the IOA. We are not getting any grant from the government and we are bound by the Olympic Charter.
So, the House decided in the Guwahati AGM that we have to tell the government to stop this practice," he said.
The flashpoint of the simmering tension between the IOA and the Sports Ministry was on the issue of the implementation of the tenure guidelines of the Sports Code, which has led to the government threatening de-recognition of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and Judo Federation of India.
The Sports Ministry had told the AITA and JFI that the election of Anil Khanna and Mukesh Kumar as chiefs of their respective federations were not valid as they did not serve a cooling period of four years before becoming Presidents.
Khanna, also an IOA Treasurer, and Kumar served as secretaries for two consecutive terms before becoming presidents. Remaining defiant, the duo have said that the government has 'wrongly' interpreted the tenure provision and the guidelines of mandatory colling-off period do not apply to a Secretary becoming a President.
Mehta said from now onwards, the IOA will give bank accounts and other details of the participating athletes to the Sports Ministry so that the government could make the necessary arrangements.
"If Sports Ministry is taking advantage of something we do for the athletes from which we do not get any monetary benefit and they (ministry) are using it as a means to enforce the Sports Code to us, then we will henceforth give the bank accounts and other details of the athletes to them (ministry) so that they can make the arrangements," the IOA Secretary General said.
Mehta said that many items in the circulars of the Sports Ministry about grants to the National Sports Federations were only meant for the training of the athletes and the NSFs themselves don't get any benefit.
"All over the world, it is a practice of governments to provide funds for the training of athletes and construction of infrastructure for hosting major international events. It is not that India is the only country doing like these.
"Here, the Sports Ministry is trying to force the NSFs to accept the Sports Code for giving them grants. It is not good.
These NSFs are under their respective international federations. It may lead to problems for the NSFs.