New Delhi: The marathon extraordinary general meeting of the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) went the expected way on Sunday, with majority of its members showing more concern about protecting the tainted officials than bringing the country back to the Olympic fold.
Though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had clearly indicated that IOA’s suspension could be extended unless its constitution is amended as per the international body’s suggestions, the IOA general body refused to bar the charge-sheeted officials from contesting in its elections.
Knowing well that accepting the IOC suggestion would throw former president Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma out of the apex body forever, the IOA tried to wriggle out of the situation by proposing the contentious charge-sheet clause should only apply to convicted persons.
The IOA has also suggested that only those who are guilty and have been sentenced to a jail term of two or more years should be stopped from contesting the polls.
The entire amendment has been worded in such a fashion that would pave the way for both Kalmadi and Bhanot, who had been charge-sheeted for corruption during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, to continue in the IOA.
IOA has also promised to set up an ethics commission in the next two months. “We have accepted all the amendments proposed by the IOC, except the charge-sheet clause.
“We have modified that clause and now only those people who have been convicted by a court of law for a jail term of two or more years will not be able to contest elections and will be disqualified automatically. This is the same as in Peoples Representation Act of Parliament,” S Reghunathan, who chaired the meeting, said.
“The cases of those persons, who are convicted for a jail term for less than two years, will be referred to the ethics commission of the IOA and the IOA executive committee will take a final decision, based on its recommendations,” he added.
While senior IOA officials, mainly from the Kalmadi-Bhanot camp, tried to argue that ousting the charge-sheeted officials may affect a lot of innocent people, the IOC observer present in the meeting did not look impressed.
“We have been told about the problems of the law of the land. Unfortunately in some countries the legal system moves slowly,” said Francisco Elizalde, the IOC observer.
“I am not 100 per cent happy with the way things went today, but we will submit a full report to IOC and should be able to come back by two weeks time,” said the official from the Philippines.
“I cannot guarantee anything. The IOC has certain rules. They have made it very cut and dry,” Elizalde added. He was, however, quick to add that IOC was keen to see India back in the Olympics fold.
A close look at the amendments would reveal that the suspended body has ignored the suggestions made by the IOC and the Indian sports ministry in several aspects.
While the sports code said a person can remain the president of the body for a maximum of three terms, the IOA amendment has incorporated a “cooling off period” for six months less than a term.
The IOC said the number of people in the executive council should be reduced, the IOA has decided to make it a 39-member body. Ten of its members should be nominated.
Interestingly, there was hardly any note of dissent in the house when it was clear that going against the IOC suggestion on charge-sheeted officials would invite further gloom for IOA.