IOA rejects IOC's chargesheet clause

New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) The suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Sunday appeared firm on bailing out charge-sheeted sports officials and again pleaded with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision to bar them from contesting elections.

The IOA, during its Special General Meeting here Sunday, refused to incorporate the contentious IOC-proposed clause that would have barred charge-sheeted individuals from holding any post and suggested an alternative that would affect only convicted officials.

The IOC will take two weeks to come back with it suggestions. But with the IOC busy with its election process, slated for Sep 7 in Buenos Aires, IOA will have to wait and postpone its elections which are scheduled for next month.

The meeting was chaired by senior member S. Raghunathan after president V.K. Malhotra, who is recognised by the IOC, boycotted it.

The IOA, which was also attended by two IOC members Francisco Elizalde (member of ethics commission) and Jerome Poivey (National Olympic Committee relations director), put up a unified stand. Out of 182 members, 161 took part in the meeting.

While the IOA accepted the age and tenure clause proposed by the IOC in its proposed draft constitution, there was no consensus on the clause that no charge-sheeted person should be allowed to hold office and contest an election.

What the IOA proposed to the IOC was that a convicted official, who has been given a sentence of two years and above will be automatically rejected. If the sentence is less than two years then it should be left to the discretion of IOA's ethics commission.

The 11-member ethics commission, comprising mostly independent members, will be finalised within a week.

"The major decision that we took today was that those who are convicted for two years and more will not be allowed to continue in IOA and and the Olympic movement. It is according to the Representation of the People Act. Matters related to corruption and criminal issues will be referred to the ethics commission, which will take a decision in 60 days and it will be referred to the executive council of the IOA. The IOC members watched and heard our views and they also said that they will communicate them to the IOC," said Raghunathan.

Elizalde, 81, said that while the IOC and the IOA are on the same page regarding convicted individuals, he was not sure about charge-sheeted ones.

"There are difference between the IOA and the IOC's recommendation regarding the suspension of candidates from office who have charges against them. Obviously we are on the same page regarding the convicted candidates but unfortunately in this country, or like mine for example, the law moves slowly and can be used by certain elements in the negative fashion. The house has passed their own resolution citing cases to the ethics commission. The body didn't turn it down outright but offered an alternative, which is good for us," said the Filipino.

Elizalde, however, was categorical in saying that he was "not 100 percent happy".

"The sanctions against those who are charge-sheeted, as proposed by the IOC, was not accepted. So I am not 100 percent happy if you go by the book," said the 81-year-old Filipino, who is also a member of the IOC ethics commission.

Elizalde, who is also a member of the IOC ethics commission, remained non-committal when asked if India, who were suspended last year by the IOC, can soon return to the Olympic fold.

"I cannot commit myself. But what I can say is that chances are improving," said Elizalde.

If the amendments are accepted by the IOC, it will be a huge relief for officials like former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and V.K. Verma, who have been charge-sheeted in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam.

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