IOA names commission, members caught unawares

Navneet Singh

New Delhi, Dec. 7 -- If the elections to the suspended Indian Olympic Association was not controversial enough, the new set of office-bearers have started on the wrong foot that can lead to embarrassment.

A day after announcing results of elections despite the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warning that it would not stand, the new set of officials tried a strange way to kick off their campaign seeking legitimacy.

In a statement by Abhey Singh Chautala, who was elected president on Wednesday, the IOA announced two panels comprising athletes, saying it was the first step to improve the system.

However, they seem to have jumped the gun as most of those named in the panel were either unaware of the move, or not too sure they will take it up.

The IOA executive council named a three-member advisory panel of PT Usha, P Gopichand and Dilip Tirkey to advise it on the problems faced by the athletes. It also constituted a nine-member athletes' commission, but failed to inform most of the athletes!

Not informed

"No, I am not aware of it!" badminton Olympian Aparna Popat reacted when told that her name figured in that IOA panel. Instead of giving her views, the Mumbai-based former shuttler was keen to know more details. "Who all are in the panel? If you have any details, kindly share with me," she told HT.

Medal winner in the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games, Popat wasn't able to throw much light on whether she would even be able to attend the IOA meeting.

She is also a member of the Badminton Association of India's (BAI) junior selection panel, but only attends when time permits.

The response of other players named in the committee, whom HT contacted, was similar to Popat's reaction.

Even the response of the chairman of the athletes' panel, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, was guarded.

The athletics great said though his consent was taken, he was still not sure what would be his role.

In the previous IOA set-up, Randhawa said, he was the convenor of the athletes' panel but never attended any meeting. "Let's see what happens this time," he said.

Former weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, the bronze medal winner in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was unaware that her name was in the list.

"Nobody has informed me about this till now," she said from Shimla. She added: "It's strange why they haven't taken my consent."

Former international paddler from Delhi, Manjeet Dua was also caught by surprise. IOA's president and secretary-general were unavailable for comment.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.