After national outrage, tainted Kalmadi opts out

Sports Ministry draws the red line, says it will not deal with IOA unless he and Chautala give up Life President posts.
Suresh Kalmadi (PTI file photo)
Suresh Kalmadi (PTI file photo)

CHENNAI: It took a warning from Sports Minister Vijay Goel for Suresh Kalmadi to opt out of the post of Indian Olympic Association’s Life President. There was a nation-wide furore over the scam-tainted former Congress MP’s appointment on Tuesday and as highlighted by Express, most found the move to appoint him for the post outrageous and unacceptable.

Even though a section of IOA members maintained that Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala’s return was legal, Goel issued a strong statement. “This is against the IOA constitution and not acceptable to the Sports Ministry because both are facing cases of corruption. Till they resign or are sacked, we will not deal with the IOA,” he said, adding that a show-cause notice will be served asking why IOA should be treated as the national Olympic body despite not conforming to norms

The top brass of the IOA kept quiet, but within the body, protests were getting louder. “I might quit the IOA because I can’t be associated with something that doesn’t go with good governance. They should not accept this position till their names are cleared,” said vice-president Narinder Batra, who heads the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

With calls to quit intensifying, Kalmadi eventually threw in the towel. “He has decided to step aside. He had no idea the IOA was going to do this and has declined any post till his name is clear,” the former IOA president’s lawyer said. The charges against Kalmadi include conspiracy, forgery and misconduct.  Sources believe Chautala would follow suit, considering the volume of the outcry.

“We have received a letter in which he (Kalmadi) has officially declined the offer (to be Life President). IOA respects his decision  and accepts the letter,” IOA president N Ramachandran said.  “The house hasn’t overturned the decision. Resigning is Kalmadi’s call,” said joint secretary Rakesh Gupta, who proposed the names of Kalmadi and Chautala at Tuesday’s annual general meeting.

They were made Life Presidents in recognition of their “contribution to India’s Olympic movement”. Despite a few members saying they were “shocked” when the names were proposed, none of the 182 voters opposed the move or lodged a protest.

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