NEW DELHI: A group of former India athletes has urged illegal officials of the Indian Olympic Association to quit for the sake of the country after the International Olympic Committee declared last month’s elections “null and void.” “We have decided not to cooperate with you and your collaborators who claim to be office-bearers of the IOA through an illegal election,” the group of 20 athletes wrote in their letter to the executive committee headed by Abhay Singh Chautala. “In the interest of Indian sports please leave the IOA office as directed by the IOC.” The athletes, all of whom have received national awards from the government, wrote the letter after they were asked to forward details of their achievements and photographs to the IOA.
The IOC last month suspended the IOA for not following the Olympic charter in its elections and called for fresh elections before it lifts the ban.
“We strongly believe that the IOC has taken the right decision,” read the letter from the former athletes, initiated by independent body Clean Sports India.
“The IOA has been suspended by the IOC and it is an illegal body. Why should all the award winners give legitimacy to an IOA headed by Abhay Singh Chautala (president) and Lalit Bhanot (secretary-general)?” Female athlete Ashwini Nachappa, and field hockey players Ashish Ballal and Suraj Lata Devi are among the 20 athletes to have backed the latest CSI initiative.
The CSI, headed by former field hockey captain Pargat Singh, sent a letter last year to the IOC signed by some 400 athletes, apprising them of poor governance and the presence of tainted officials in the IOA.
The IOC asked the IOA to adhere to its own constitution but the IOA went ahead with the election, citing a Delhi High Court order that said the polls should be in line with the government sports code.
Also, the IOC ethics commission advised that tainted officials shouldn’t hold administrative posts, but Bhanot was declared elected unopposed despite having been earlier jailed along with former IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi for corruption cases related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Kalmadi, who headed the IOA for 16 years, decided not to seek re-election but backed Chautala and Bhanot.
Meanwhile, Chautala’s elder brother and Table Tennis Federation of India president, Ajay Singh Chautala, was on Monday convicted for 10 years over corruption charges not related to sports. But the case was regarded as another blow to the image of Indian sports officials.
The table tennis official was pronounced guilty along with 54 others by a local court in a teachers’ recruitment scam in 2000 in the northern state of Haryana, where his local political outfit ran the government there.