Faced with a barrage of criticism, scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi declined the position of the Indian Olympic Association’s Life President on Wednesday, even as the Sports Ministry issued a showcause notice to the IOA for its controversial decision.
“I thank the Indian Olympic Association for conferring the honour of Life President on me. However, I do not feel that it would be appropriate for me to accept this honour at this time,” Kalmadi said in a letter addressed to IOA President N Ramachandran.
“I am confident that my name will be cleared and I will defer acceptance of the honour till such time,” he added.
Kalmadi, along with another tainted former President Abhay Singh Chautala, were elevated to Life Presidents by the IOA at its Annual General Meeting in Chennai on Tuesday.
The move triggered a storm with the Ministry issuing a showcause notice to the IOA on Wednesday and also threatening to severe ties with the body if it failed to sack the duo.
“This move is against the constitution of IOA and is not acceptable to the Sports Ministry. I am disappointed by the decision because both are facing cases of corruption. We want transparency in sports. Till the time, these two don’t resign or are sacked, we will not deal with the IOA,” Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters in New Delhi.
Earlier, while the IOA top brass went incommunicado for some time before Associate vice-President Narinder Batra, who is now the President of International Hockey Federation, criticised the move and called for the duo to step aside.
“I might be quitting the IOA soon because I can’t be associated with something which does not make sense to me in terms of good governance. They should not accept this position till the time their names are cleared,” Batra said, breaking ranks with the officials, who voted unanimously for these appointments in Chennai on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Chautala came out defending himself and launching an attack on Goel. But that did little to douse the fire and Goel was joined by Ajay Maken, the Sports Minister in the previous government, in criticising the move and calling it “sad and painful”.
Kalmadi served as the IOA president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games corruption scandal but was later released on bail.
Chautala, on the other hand, served as the president of the IOA from December 2012 to February 2014 when the sports body was suspended by the parent IOC for fielding charge-sheeted candidates at the elections. His election as IOA chief was annulled by the IOC.
Image: Suresh Kalmadi