Government slams IOA as Chautala remains defiant (Roundup)

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) The Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) decision to offer the scam-tainted duo of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala the post of honorary life presidents created more fireworks on Thursday with the government announcing that a show cause notice has been served to the national sports body even as Chautala remained defiant.

Former IOA chiefs Chautala and Suresh Kalmadi were named Life Presidents of the Indian Olympic Association during its annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday leading to an uproar with criticism pouring in from various quarters.

The Union Sports Ministry had threatened to sever ties with the IOA if the decision was not revoked.

“We have issued a showcause notice to the IOA on Wednesday and asked them to reply by December 30. Why should government not stop supporting the IOA? If the IOA is violating the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter, its own constitution and the National Sports Code, then the government will have to rethink our decision to support them.

“They have failed to conform to the basic principles of ethics and good governance, violated the directive of IOC and violated their constitution. We have asked them to give their reply by December 30,” Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters in Mumbai.

“No one is above government when they take our support and assistance and represent the country.”

Pointing out that the IOA was de-recognised by the IOC for electing Chautala as president in the past, Goel lashed out at IOA President N. Ramachandran for bringing in the issue which was originally not a part of the AGM’s agenda.

“I feel that IOA president Ramachandran is equally guilty. He brought this item despite it not being on the agenda and passed it.

“The job of the Indian Olympic Association is to work with basic principles of ethics and good governance. But they have decided to appoint two chargesheeted people as life presidents,” he said.

“The IOC had withdrawn their recognition immediately and had said that till the time you don’t put in the constitution there will be no chargesheeted persons, who have cases against them, and till then IOA will be suspended and they suspended it,” the minster added.

Former Sports Minister Ajay Maken and International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Narinder Batra had also criticised the IOA’s decision on Wednesday.

Hockey India (HI) also slammed Ramachandran in a letter on Thursday.

“Hockey India is opposed to the resolution which was passed in haste as last item in ‘any other item’ within half minute and without any discussion by nominating Mr Suresh Kalmadi and Mr Abhay Singh Chautala as Life President of IOA, and the meeting was declared closed after that,” HI President Mariamma Koshy said in the letter.

“Kindly put the three votes of Hockey India as opposed to the resolution in which Mr Suresh Kalmadi and Mr Abhay Singh Chautala were appointed as the Life President of IOA.”

The controversy had prompted Kalmadi to turn down the post on Wednesday, but Chautala remained defiant, asserting that he will turn down the IOA’s offer only if told to do so by the IOC.

“I will leave my position in IOA if IOC gives ruling against my holding the honorary post. President, IOA is likely to take it up soon with IOC,” Chautala tweeted.

Chautala also released a detailed statement claiming that Indian boxing flourished during his tenure at the helm and tried to defend his position.

“I have served Indian Sports selflessly for more than 25 years and have made my humble contribution towards promotion of Indian Sports, especially boxing. I am pleased that Haryana state where our government initiated many programes to encourage sportspersons is now in the forefront of Olympic movement in India,” Chautala said.

“We have very fond memories of Vijender Singh becoming the first bronze medallist in boxing in 2008 in Beijing Olympics when I was president of IABF. I was also pleased that Mary Kom being a female athlete won bronze medal in 2012 London Olympics.”

“Indian boxers brought laurel by winning (medals) in all 10 weight categories, including six golds in CWG 2010. Indian boxers constantly won back to back medals including medals won by legendary boxer Mary Kom, L. Sarita Devi, Sarju Bala, Vijender Singh, Suranjoy Singh, Devendro Singh, Manoj Kumar and all others during my tenure as IABF President,” the statement added.

“I have always served sports selflessly and will do everything for promotion of sportspersons and sports. Although I was elected president unanimously of IOA in 2012, I decided to sacrifice this position in 2013 when vested interests from within India were able to influence an amendment to IOA constitution.”

Chautala, who had threatened to take legal action against Goel on Wednesday, expressed surprise at the reaction to the IOA’s decision.

“I am surprised at the reaction of Minister of Sports Vijay Goel and the media attention which was given to this ceremonial recognition of my humble contribution to sports and the sacrifice I have made in 2013 by resigning from the post of President, although I was elected President in accordance with IOA constitution, Indian constitution and in a most transparent manner in an election conducted by three eminent judges,” he said.

“Even my presence to witness the Rio Olympics has been questioned. I am personally aware of the conduct of the Minister of Sports at Rio Olympics where IOC had questioned the behavior of the Minister and his associates and threatened to withdraw his accreditation,” he added.

“I, once again, wish to thank the IOA for nominating me to the ceremonial position of Lifetime President and I have already informed the President IOA, through a separate letter. I will be pleased to sacrifice my position, once again, in the best interest of Indian sports, sportspersons, good governance, transparency and cleanliness in India sports.”