The controversial elections to Indian Olympic Association seemed headed for more trouble with the International Olympic Committee Friday threatening to disaffiliate the national sports body if it follows government guidelines in the polls, prompting the IOA acting chief to seek Prime Minister's intervention to resolve the matter.
On a day of dramatic development, the IOC and Olympic Council of Asia sent a strongly-worded letter to IOA warning strong action if it did not clarify its stand on the issue by November 30.
".. it is our understanding that IOA is unable to confirm that IOA's elections will be held strictly in accordance with rules of Olympic Charter and IOA's constitution currently in force. On the contrary, it is mentioned that the government regulations shall apply for IOA's elections, thus ignoring the Olympic Charter and IOA's constitution," IOC President chief Jacques Rogge and OCA chief Al Sabah said in a joint letter.
"Unless you rectify the situation with immediate effect and give a clear and written guarantee to IOC to ensure that elections be held strictly on the basis of the Olympic Charter and IOA's constitution, we inform you that a proposal for suspension of your NOC will be presented to the IOC Executive Board at its next meeting on 4-5 December 2012, based on Rules 27.9 and 59.1.4 of the Olympic Charter," the letter stated.
Barely a few hours after the IOC letter was circulated to the media, IOA acting chief V K Malhotra wrote a letter to the PM asking him to withdraw the Sports Code urgently. "I have just received a letter from the IOC in which it has threatened to disaffiliate IOA if its elections scheduled to be held here on 5th December are held as per Sports Code of Government of India," Malhotra said in the letter to the PM.
"Given the gravity of situation, as the fate of thousands of Indian sportspersons is linked with it, I sincerely appeal to you to immediately ask the Sports Ministry to withdraw this Sports Code.
"Disaffiliation from IOC will not be good for reputation and prestige of the country. It will seriously impede our progress in sports and demoralise sportspersons. India at this stage can ill-afford such a situation, hence the request you to step in and urgently withdraw this ill conceived Sports Code."
Explaining the rationale behind his plea for withdrawing the Sports Code, Malhotra, in his letter to the PM, said, "You may recall that an IOA delegation led by me had called upon you in June 2011 to apprise about the serious ramifications which will follow if the Government keep insisting on passing a National Sports Development Bill.
"Though the Government dropped the Bill but the Sports Code is still in existence and the IOC has made it clear that it will not accept/recognise any election to IOA conducted under this Sports Code." The elections scheduled for December 5 has been mired in controversy over which of the two -- the government's Sports Code or the Olympic Charter -- should be followed.
Even as the dispute over the procedure for the elections continued, the rival groups went on accusing each other of scuttling the poll process. A group of senior IOA officials and 12 National Sports Federations chiefs, who are backing Abhay Singh Chautala for the president's post, today accused Randhir Singh of bringing IOC into "disrepute" by trying to stall the polls and said they would write to the world body to hold an inquiry into his "manoeuvrings"
These officials said that Randhir, who is contesting for the post of IOA president, has manipulated the letters sent by the IOC which had directed the IOA not to hold the polls under the government's Sports Code.
"It is shocking that Randhir, who has been IOC member for last one decade, secretary general of OCA for last two decades has stooped to such a low and used unethical and undemocratic means to postpone the election process," IOA vice-president G S Mander told a press conference, flanked by other senior officials of the IOA and NSFs.
"We are writing to IOC chief Jacques Rogge to institute an inquiry into his actions by the Ethics Commission. We will urge the IOC to look into the unsavoury conduct of Randhir, who being its member has tarnished its reputation and image."
In their letter to the IOA, IOC President Rogge and OCA chief Al Sabah have questioned IOA's handling of the entire matter, and criticsed the national Olympic body for not informing IOC about Delhi High Court's order to follow government regulations in elections.
"Lately, the IOA has failed to inform the IOC and OCA in due time of this conflictive issue on the applicable rules for the IOA elections, and in particular has not informed the IOC and OCA of the order from the Delhi High Court on 13 September 2012 by which the IOA is now saying that it is bound.
"The IOA has therefore neglected a number of fundamental duties and responsibilities of an NOC as provided in Olympic Charter. Now, IOA cannot, on the one hand, reject in principle the government regulations and decide not to reflect them in IOA's constitution and, on the other hand, accept to be bound by those government regulations and continue developing its election process on that basis," the letter said.
They also said that the IOC will not recognise the upcoming elections of IOA if it is held under the government regulations. "Though it is necessary for the IOA to hold its regular quadrennial election process, this election process cannot take place on an incorrect basis and in such a confusing context," it said.
"Should the IOA decide to hold elections on a basis other than the Olympic Charter and IOA's constitution, the results of such elections would not be recognised by the IOC and OCA," the IOC and OCA joint letter said.