Disregarding the ban imposed by the International Olympic [ Images ] Committee, a defiant Indian Olympic Association went ahead with its AGM and elections on Wednesday, claiming it hasn't violated any guidelines even as the government and national sports body blamed each other for the fiasco.
A day after the IOC cracked the whip by suspending the IOA for failing to comply with the Olympic Charter in its election process, the government and IOA were engaged in a blame game though both spoke of the need to find a solution to the vexed issue quickly.
The IOA, showing utter disregard to the IOC's stand that the election would be treated "null and void", went ahead with the poll in which members of the Randhir Singh faction stayed away.
The elections were only for relatively minor positions as politician Abhay Singh Chautala, contesting for the president's post, had already been elected unopposed while scam-tainted Lalit Bhanot had become the new secretary-general.
"The house unanimously decided that we did not do anything wrong by going ahead with the election process. We had already communicated to the IOC that the IOA will have to go ahead with the elections under the sports code because of the Delhi [ Images ] high court order," IOA acting president V K Malhotra told reporters on the sidelines of the AGM in Delhi.
"In spite of this the IOC decided to suspend us, but we will try our level best to get the suspension revoked as soon as possible," he said.
"About 85 per cent of the sports federations and state Olympic committees were present in the AGM. And it was a unanimous decision," he said.
The Sports Ministry said the IOC's decision to attribute suspension to government interference in the IOA's election process was "entirely misplaced".
It insisted that it is not the Sports Code, but IOA's constitution, which is not aligned with the Olympic Charter.
"The IOA had agreed to amend its constitution in 2010, but has failed to bring about the necessary amendments in the past two years. Had this been done, there would have been no cause for intervention by the IOC," a statement from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said.
The ministry clarified that National Sports Development Code includes age and tenure guidelines for office-bearers of sports bodies as are enshrined in the Olympic Charter itself.
"They are similar to the practices followed by the IOC and are drawn from the Constitution of the IOC and have been upheld by the Courts of Law in India [ Images ]. All that the Sports Code seeks to achieve is to ensure that the election of the IOA and others sports bodies are fair, transparent and in consonance with the Olympic Charter," the statement said.
The ministry reiterated that it is ready to discuss with the IOC and IOA all issues related to the Sports Code and its compatibility with the Olympic Charter.
Sports minister Jitendra Singh said he does not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to interfere in the matter but will still try to engage with the IOC to get the ban reversed.
"The government does not have any mandate or jurisdiction. We are concerned and that is why we called a meeting of the IOA and wrote to the IOC. That's not our mandate but we will make all efforts to resolve the issue," Singh said.
"Two days ago I had met IOA officials and warned them that such a ban can come and amend your Constitution. But today instead of playing the blame-game, the need is to have a future strategy.
"I will once again talk to the IOC and write to them that let's talk about solving this problem for the future of Indian sportspersons. The government will take every step and we are willing to mediate. In the next few days I will also talk to sportspersons on the matter," Singh said.