Sports code-Does the Indian sports ministry need to have a rethink about it?

December 2012, will always be remembered in Indian sports as the year that made sports code, a buzzword that shook Indian Sports.

The Government of India passed the National Sports Development Code of India in 2011, when Ajay Maken was a sports minister, to place “restrictions on the age and tenure of office-bearers, besides envisaging free and fair elections and transparent functioning of National Sports Federations.”

Soon after IOA’s suspension, there was swift action on cracking down violators who administered Boxing, Athletics, and many such Olympic-affiliated sports associations in India.

December 2016, the dreaded term is back, thanks to the Indian Olympic Association’s controversial decision to grant the scam-tainted duo of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala Life Presidents’ status.

As an Indian citizen, I am worried about sports in India and often wonder about the state of affairs and the mental fitness of people who run prestigious sports governing bodies such as the Indian Olympic Association!

Doesn’t the current IOA president know that Kalmadi and Chautala are corruption-tainted? Are the people recommended for Lifetime Presidents fit to hold the positions (even if it’s an honorary position) and doesn’t the appointments contradict the sports code of 2012?

At a recent event, Vijay Goel, Sports Minister of India quoted:

“I feel that IOA president N.Ramachandran is equally guilty. He brought this item (into the meeting) despite it not being on the agenda and passed it.”

Vijay Goel

IOA has a lot of questions to answer

If analysed, the quote shows discrepancies in the way IOA functions. How can something so random come up in an AGM? How did the resolution even get approved? Why is the IOA chief on a holiday and even if he is on a holiday, why is he so coy about it? Why has he asked for some more time to deal with the issue?

Does this move also question the motives of the people managing the IOA, isn’t the IOA’s job to work with basic principles of ethics and good governance?

So far the sports ministry has responded aptly by suspending IOA after the IOA failed to furnish a satisfactory response to a show-cause notice and has demanded resignations of Kalmadi and Chautala.

Does the sports code needs updating

This latest incident is a high profile story and is out in the media, but if you dig deeper the chances of sports code violation occurring will be very high. Recently, stories have emerged from the Goa Football Association about sports code violations in AIFF’s election process. This clearly calls for the sports ministry to revisit the sports code, update the clauses with lifetime suspensions for everyone who do not comply with the codes set by the sports ministry, and are involved in ludicrous decisions that put India’s sports future in disrepute.

With IOC officials on their annual winter break, not much will be expected from them till they are back. IOC hopefully will crack a whip on the IOA and lay down strict rules and force the IOA to reverse their decision. I am just hoping that the athletes do not face the repercussions of the ongoing, mindless and senseless decision of appointing Kalmadi and Chautala as life presidents.

As a worried Indian sports fan, I would urge the two nominees for the IOA lifetime presidents to decline the roles for the good of Indian sports. Please leave your personal motives behind and let sports in India take the main stage and let sports prevail over you guys. Please, for heaven’s sake, pass the baton to younger, clean, and fit people to run the IOA.

Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.