The Indian sporting fraternity has been in a jubilant mood lately, the reason being the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to lift its 14 month ban on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), hence allowing the 3 Indian athletes competing in the Winter Games at Sochi, to now do so under the Indian flag.
Indian sporting bodies and it’s administration are generally associated with politics. As most of the sports institutions have a politician or a businessman at its helm, in spite of the qualifications and charges of corruption, it all began when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took cognizance of this and warned the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to ensure that no office-bearer faces criminal or corruption case and amend its constitution to reflect this.
The IOA refused to comply and elected Lalit Bhanot, an accused in the 2010 CWG scam as secretary general leading to the ban in December 2012. It also elected Abhay Singh Chautala, another official accused of corruption. Despite the Indian government and Sports Minister reflecting their disappointment with the IOA’s behaviour, nothing was done, once again proving that in this country unless you are a cricketer, you aren’t given much consideration.
The personal interests of a few who wanted to remain in power trumped the Indian athletes who wanted to compete under their own national flag. The ban also put an end to funding from the IOC to IOA and in India where sports besides cricket are so underfunded and ignored, this came as a slap to the face of the athletes.
The most shameful aspect of this whole saga is that it took 14 months for the IOA to blink and get the ban lifted after Narayna Ramachandran was elected as the president of the national body. Ramachandran, the president of the World Squash Federation has been joined by Rajeev Mehta and Anil Khanna as the new secretary general and treasurer. Narayna Ramachandran also happens to be the brother of the controversial BCCI President N Srinivasan.
Despite IOA complying and banning charge-framed persons from contesting polls, those who are now disqualified from contesting, like Abhay Singh Chautala, have still had their opinions conveyed, choosing candidates for several posts.
So, the removal of the ban isn’t a cause for celebration because it wasn’t done for the Indian athletes, certainly not for Indian sports and national pride but again due to pure selfish reasons and though the fresh elections of the IOA are a positive step, what we need is an overhaul of all the sporting bodies.