Olympic champ backs IOC threat to ban India
NEW DELHI (AFP) –
India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra on Sunday lashed out at the country’s sports officials, saying an Olympic ban could be a “blessing in disguise”.
“The current mess is completely of the Indian Olympic Association’s making,” Bindra, who won a rifle shooting gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, wrote in the Hindustan Times newspaper.
The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board, which meets in Lausanne on December 4 and 5, will decide if the Indian federation should be suspended for flouting the Olympic charter in its election process.
The IOA had been directed by a Delhi court to hold elections according to the government’s sports code, while the IOC wanted it to abide by the Olympic charter that favours autonomy.
Elections to the faction-ridden IOA are due to be held on December 5, but have become a formality after a rival group led by IOC member Randhir Singh withdrew from the contest last week.
It left tainted sports official Lalit Bhanot elected unopposed as the IOA’s secretary-general while Haryana state politician Abhey Singh Chautala became president.
Bhanot is out on bail after serving 11 months in jail last year over corruption charges during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi when he was secretary-general of the organising committee.
The IOC Ethics Commission had in October warned the Indian body against fielding either Bhanot or former IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi — who is also on bail over corruption charges.
Both Bhanot and Chautala have been close associates of Kalmadi.
Bindra, whose victory in Beijing was warmly received in cricket-crazy India, said he was aghast at Bhanot joining the IOA.
“It’s about politics and stooping to a new low,” Bindra wrote in the newspaper. “How can he return? It is agonising to see such people coming back. It makes my blood boil.”
Bindra said any possible ban from the Olympic movement may just be what India needed to set its sports house in order.
“If our Olympic association is banned, it could be a blessing in disguise,” he wrote. “With no multi-sport event in 2013, Indian athletes could afford a moratorium of three to six months, and unite to change the present system.”
Suspension from IOC membership would mean India would not receive IOC funding and its officials would be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events.
India’s athletes would also be barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag, although the IOC could allow some to participate under the Olympic flag.