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Heralding a new Indian order

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The inevitable has happened. The verdict from Buenos Aires comes as a slap in the faces of all the mandarins ‘running’ the Indian Olympic...

The inevitable has happened. The verdict from Buenos Aires comes as a slap in the faces of all the mandarins ‘running’ the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who were under the impression that they could get away with anything while resorting to blackmail tactics to hardsell their brand of sports ‘promotion’. Wednesday’s decision taken by the 15-member Elite Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the Argentine capital was not only meant to usher in a vibrant culture across the globe but was likely also to salvage the image of its member from New Delhi since the time of its suspension for alleged rampant corruption by its administrators who were running the show as despots to suit their own individual whims and fancies. Each such act has been detrimental to sport in the country. By rejecting IOA’s untenable plea for allowing charge-sheeted officials to run for office, and keeping India out of the Olympic fold till the tainted members are thrown out, the IOC has set a healthy precedent that augurs well for Indian sport despite bottlenecks.

By insisting that IOA change its constitution and abide by the roadmap, which mandates that only adoption of the chargesheet clause was acceptable as the key to good governance, the apex body has made it clear that India’s exile would continue till there was a change of guard and persons of eminence and proven integrity hold reins of office. The decision taken by the IOA, at its special general body meeting on August 25, vetoed the IOC clause.

It barred only those who have been convicted, and not merely charge-sheeted. The IOC, which has been working tirelessly to end the deadlock and help Indian sportspersons get back on their tracks, is likely to notify the IOA so as to resolve the thorny issue. The ban is rather painful because, for as long as it stays, the IOC will not fund the ‘errant’ national associations which will also be barred from attending meetings. As far as the athletes are concerned, they can contest only as independent participants but not under the country’s flag.

Against this backdrop and the continued anxiety and heartburn amid a sense of remorse, a rejuvenated panel will hopefully take over the IOA administration and start the cleansing operation by pursuing the Charter in letter and spirit. The IOC body-blow may come as a rude shock to ‘incumbent’ IOA members, who have been left out in the cold, but it will be welcomed by all those championing the cause of ‘clean sports’. Several celebrated athletes have come together to ensure that ‘shady’ officials like Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot will never be allowed to hold any office.
To them, the latest IOC killer-punch comes as a victory for their campaign and a vindication of their stance. After all, when highly decorated personalities like Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Ashwini Nachappa, Mahesh Bhupathi, Viren Rasquinha and Ronjan Sodhi join forces and launch a nationwide movement to overturn the ban, its impact would be no less than Olympian in nature. It is time the IOA house is set in order.
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