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Outrage over Glasgow shame

The allegations of drink-driving against Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Rajeev Mehta and sexual misconduct against unattached wrestling referee Virender Malik during the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and their subsequent arrests, have evoked sharp reactions from Jamshedpur’s sports fraternity.

“I am deeply upset by the embarrassment in Glasgow. Never expected such misconduct. The national flag has been put to shame in a prestigious international event,” Padma Shri and Olympian Charles Borromeo, who had bagged 800m gold in the 1982 Asian Games, said on Monday.

“If their guilt is proven, stern action should be taken against the accused,” Olympian Harbhajan Singh said. “Athletes toil to win medals for the country in international meets or better the national record. Officials go abroad for shopping and entertainment.”

Singh gave another insight. “Vote politics in the main reason behind IOA sending officials abroad. The IOA keeps officials in good humour to win their votes,” he claimed.

“Now, the IOA and the central government should formulate a policy to limit the number of officials and delegates accompanying the national contingent. And of course, the IOA and sports ministry should initiate strict disciplinary action if charges are proved in court.”

Jharkhand Badminton Association (JBA) secretary K. Prabhakar Rao termed the incidents as “unfortunate”.

“I condemn this. The element of misconduct is not new in Indian sports. But, the IOA and the central government should ban the officials if proven guilty,” Rao, also the joint secretary of Badminton Association of India (BAI), added.

S.M. Hashmi, secretary general of Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) as well as a member of the IOA executive council, however, viewed the Glasgow episode differently.

“I don’t believe Mehta would have done such a thing,” he said staunchly.

“I know him for the past two decades. Mehta couldn’t have driven a car around Glasgow in a drunken state as he avoids driving and drinking because of his obesity. Mehta was with me at the 2010 London Olympics and is a thorough gentleman,” he added.

He added that it was difficult to imagine Mehta alone driving a car in Glasgow when chauffeurs are always available with officials.

Defending Malik, a category I wrestling referee, who is apparently an invitee and not part of the Indian contingent, Hashmi said jealousy could have led someone to frame him. “Though the entire matter will be heard in a court of law I don’t think the charges (sexual assault) are true,” Hashmi added.