IOA Athletes’ Commission Chair guidelines ignore many Asian Games medallists, Arjuna Award winners

Asian Games silver medallist Fouad Mirza's role in the formation of the Equestrian Federation of India's Athletes' Commission will be crucial.
Asian Games silver medallist Fouaad Mirza’s role in the formation of the Equestrian Federation of India’s Athletes’ Commission will be crucial.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Athletes Commission Chairman Malav Shroff’s guidelines for formation of the Athletes’ Commissions in various National Sports Federations (NSFs) has stirred a veritable hornet’s nest. For, it makes a whole lot of Asian Games medallists and Arjuna Award winners ineligible for election to such Athletes’ Commissions.

Shroff has given first preference to all Olympians from the last six editions and the second preference to all medallists in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. In doing that, he indicates that an athlete who finished 19th and last in an Olympic Games is available for election while a multiple Asian Games medallist from before 2010 would be ruled out.

Such deliberate construct of electoral colleges in NSFs had led to confusion, chaos and, at times, allegations of anarchy. An athlete embracing the ploy is indicative of the deep-rooted malaise in the Indian sports firmament. Clearly, Shroff has ignored the composition of the commission that he heads in IOA. One of his colleagues, not an Olympian, played the Asian Games in 1990.

One of the first NSFs to use this to its advantage is the Equestrian Federation of India.

It has considered holding elections for its Athletes Commission according to these guidelines issued by the IOA Athletes’ Commission Chairman. These guidelines have led to the exclusion of 1980 Olympians, including JS Ahluwalia, and several Arjuna Award winners and Asian Games medallists including Adhiraj Singh, Rajesh Pattu and Deep Kumar Ahlawat.

There really is no reason why those who have represented India with distinction, won medals and earned national awards should be excluded from being members of and getting elected to their respective NSF’s Athletes’ Commissions. It is crucial that IOA sends out the right signals at a time when it is eager to be seen as having embraced good governance practices.

Curiously, in writing the guidelines, Shroff has overlooked IOA Secretary-General Rajiv Mehta’s missive to the NSFs saying that they must replicate the rules laid down by their respective International Federations (IFs). It is not clear if Shroff’s guidelines have the sanction of the IOA Executive Committee, let alone the General Assembly.

It is imperative for the Indian Olympic Association to issue a well-articulated set of guidelines. Until that happens, the National Sports Federations must follow the procedures that their respective international federations adopt in electing athletes’ representatives to their decision-making bodies. 

This article first appeared in Mail Today on February 1, 2019. 

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with and, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.