Tainted sports administrator Lalit Bhanot's unopposed election to the post of
Indian Olympic Association's secretary general today created a fresh controversy
but the IOA justified its decision by saying that he has yet not been pronounced
guilty by the court of law.
Bhanot, who spent nearly a year in jail last year in connection with the
Commonwealth Games corruption case, was elected secretary general of the IOA
along with Virendra Nanavati (senior vice-president) and N Ramachandran
(treasurer) after the three-member IOA Election Commission, headed by Justice (retd)
Anil Dev Singh, put up the final list of candidates.
Abhay Singh Chautala has also been elected unopposed as the president of the
IOA after all the candidates contesting the key IOA posts withdrew from the
Chautala, while defending the candidature of Bhanot, told mediapersons here
that any person, until convicted by the court, was free to contest a election.
"In our country, there are several important figures against whom cases
are registered. A lot of cases have been registered on political grounds against
politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, J Jayalalitha, Om
Prakash Chautala, Prakash Singh Badal and many others. They are running the
state governments of their respective states.
"The point I am trying to make here is that it's up to the court to
decide whether a person is guilty or not. A person until convicted is free to
contest. Bhanot has not been proven guilty as yet," said Chautala.
"One thing I would like to clarify in the case of Bhanot is that the IOC
did not write any letter to the IOA directly. Jagdish Tytler had written a
letter to the IOC asking whether Bhanot can contest the elections or not. The
IOC replied to the letter addressing it to Tytler and not to the IOA", he
The IOC's reply was forwarded
by Tytler to everyone from his personal mail id. In this whole case, Bhanot did
not receive any letter from the IOC but it was Tytler who had raised questions
on his contesting the elections," Chautala said.
Bhanot, who was jailed along with former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi and VK
Verma in connection with the CWG corruption scam, was elected unopposed despite
serious objections from the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC Ethics Commission's recommendations stated that tainted officials like
Bhanot cannot be part of the Olympic movement.
Bhanot, who spent 11 months in jail and later released on bail, was the only
candidate in the fray after Volleyball Federation of India Secretary General K
Murugan and Judo Federation of India General Secretary Mukesh Kumar decided to
withdraw their candidature.
The IOA may have elected its new office bearers, but the threat of them being
banned by the IOC still exists. The IOC had said it will propose the suspension
of the IOA at its executive board meeting on December4-5 in Lausanne if its
elections were held under the Sports Ministry's code.
Meanwhile, an official associated with Bhanot's camp, on Friday justified his
election to the post of secretary general, stating that the matter is sub judice.
"Everyone favoured his candidature as he is still not convicted of any
charges. He is not a convicted person as the charges against him have not been
proved. He will resign from the post if proven guilty by the court. He has
always helped in the upliftment of sports. He has been wrongly projected as a
tainted person in the media," he said.
Bhanot's election came in for sharp criticism from Randhir Singh, who withdrew
his nomination for the post of president in view of the code dispute, and former
Indian Hockey Federation chief K P S Gill.
"They have defied the IOC's guidelines. Tainted officials like Bhanot
should not have contested, but they are just interested in occupying
posts", Randhir said.