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IOA Ups The Ante, Says Interference Could Lead To Suspension

The simmering row between the government and sports federation bosses over tenure limitations intensified on Tuesday with the IOA warning that the Sports Ministry's attempt to erode their autonomy might invite an international ban on
PTI May 04, 2010 17:51 IST
PTI

The simmering row between the government and sports federation bosses over tenure limitations intensified on Tuesday with the IOA warning that the Sports Ministry's attempt to erode their autonomy might invite an international ban on India.

Armed with letters of support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Indian Olympic Association today went on the offensive, asserting that sports bodies could not be subjected to interference and external pressure as per the Olympic Charter.

'Any restriction on the tenure of the office bearers and fixing age limit may amount to interference to the internal functioning of the National Olympic Committees. This is a violation of Olympic Charter and IOC Executive Board may hand sanctions, suspension or withdrawal of recognition of such NOCs," IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh told a press conference here.

"The issue of limiting tenure and fixing age limit of office bearers of the NOCs shall not be decided or imposed by any government or external pressure but should be decided by the NOCs themselves. These should be the prerogative of the NOCs and decided by their executive committees or general assemblies," Randhir said, quoting a letter from the IOC.

The IOA official said both the letters have been forwarded to the Sports Ministry and he was expecting an amicable solution to the episode.

"We have forwarded the letters to the Sports Ministry and I hope better sense will prevail. Going ahead with the regulation would invite sanction, which may lead to a complete ban on India.

"We have to decide if we really want our athletes to compete in international events and host major events in India. If IOC suspends us, all international federations would follow suit and our athletes would be the real victims in such a scenario," he said.

"Anything can happen. It may even jeopardise the Commonwealth Games even though I don't want to be too negative. I hope we would reach a solution soon, for we want to work in tandem with the Ministry," Randhir said.

The new regulation bars NSF presidents, which includes long-standing IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, from occupying the top posts for more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve eight years at a stretch and can seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.

Apart from Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the more than a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club), B S Adityan (volleyball) and Jagdish Tytler (judo). PTI