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SBD Global/December 10, 2012/Olympics

Archery, Boxing Latest Indian Sports Bodies Facing Heat Following IOA Suspension

India's Devendro Singh Laishram fights Ireland's Paddy Barnes at the 2012 London Games. India's boxing body is under the ugn over election irregularities.
Indian sport was "dealt a twin body blow" when the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was suspended by the int'l body and de-recognized by the sports ministry while the government also withdrew recognition to the Archery Association of India, according to the HINDUSTAN TIMES. The provocation was "election irregularities on both counts," the very same reason the IOC suspended the Indian Olympic Association. The "archery mess was waiting to happen." AAI President Vijay Kumar Malhotra, 81, was re-elected for a 10th term last month -- a "violation of the sports code that restricts the number of terms to three and the age limit to 70" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 12/7). The PTI reported that the Int'l Boxing Association (AIBA) has provisionally suspended the IABF alleging "possible manipulation" in its recent elections. The AIBA said in a statement: "Further to the International Olympic Committee's suspension imposed on the Indian Olympic Association, the International Boxing Association Executive Committee Bureau has decided today December 6 to provisionally suspend the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation. This provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF's election. AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA president, as former chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election" (PTI, 12/9).

STEPPING DOWN: The DNA's Norris Pritam wrote the "tremors in the corridors of Delhi’s Shastri Bhawan, where Sports Minister Jitendera Singh made the announcement, rattled the Chautala-Bhanot camp, which had earlier defied the dictate" of the IOC. This came following suspension of the IOA by the IOC and provisional suspension of IABF by its Lausanne, Switzerland-based parent body, the AIBA. Sensing "the matter as grave," Indian National Lok Dal Party member Abhay Singh Chautala "lost no time in bowing to the IOC dictate." He agreed to step down from his post and said that the IABF was "ready to hold a re-election to regain AIBA’s affiliation." Chautala said IABF re-election "was an option if that is what the AIBA insisted on." Chautala: “We are ready for a re-election, and I am ready [to] quit the post of chairman. AIBA can send its observer and fix the date also" (DNA, 12/9).

IN A PICKLE: The ASIAN AGE wrote Indian sport is in "a pretty pickle at the moment." At the heart of the matter is how "elections are handled by these associations, which are usually headed by politicians or bureaucrats who have mastered the art of manipulating a captive vote bank and retaining control over the affairs of sport." India's veteran sports administrators have "established such a hold on the federations that not even the most-idealistic retired sportsman would consider getting involved in administration" (ASIAN AGE, 12/9).

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: In New Delhi, Navneet Singh noted Friday saw "plenty of action but little assurance that Indian athletes, left seething and worried about their future, will not be hurt by the actions of their sports bosses." The new IOA office-bearers face possible legal action by the IOC that has not recognized the Wednesday elections. The IOC has said that it would deal only with Malhotra and outgoing Secretary General Randhir Singh. This means the new office-bearers "may not even be able to carry out day-to-day activities." A letter from IOC Dir General Christophe De Kepper said that the IOC "might take legal action against the IOA if its funds are misused." The letter said, “…they are not entitled to access the suspended IOA’s bank accounts and the funds of the Olympic Movement” (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 12/8). Also in New Delhi, Aabhas Sharma wrote "some say that trouble was inevitable, given the unprofessional manner in which Indian sports bodies and federations are run and their dependence on the government." Now, the issue of sports management in India has "become something of a public scandal" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 12/8).

ATHLETE SPEAKS OUT: The PTI reported veteran Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi feels the IOA suspension is a "culmination of dirty politics." Bhupathi: "I am not sure who is personally responsible for this but from what I hear and read, it's a culmination of dirty politics." Bhupathi said that the developments are "embarrassing." Bhupathi: "...I am not sure when this has happened last to any country, not being able to represent India for the sportsperson at any international meet is punishing and for absolutely no fault of theirs" (PTI, 12/8). The AFP reported the administration of Olympic sports in India could "face a major overhaul." Rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra tweeted, "Indian sports DETOX begins." Politicians and officials, who regarded national sports federations as "their personal fiefdoms, suddenly found themselves cornered -- but typically remained unrepentant" (AFP, 12/9).

CONSIDER THE CONTEXT: In Chennai, Injeti Srinivas opined the present action of the IOC "has to be viewed in the context of previous suspensions of NOCs." Iraq was suspended in '08 for dismissing the NOC and installing a new one headed by its own sports minister. In '10, Kuwait was suspended because its sports law was seen to "heavily interfere with the functioning of the NOC." Ghana, in '11, was suspended because the heads of National Sports Federations were "nominated by the government." In all these cases, the principal cause of action was “government interference” threatening the autonomy of sport guaranteed by the Olympic Charter. In the case of India, however, the position appears to be quite the opposite because the National Sports Code "only seeks transparency and accountability" from the IOA and the NSFs in "promoting the Olympic movement in the country" (THE HINDU, 12/10).
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