On 3 January, 2017 the Supreme Court of India did something unprecedented. In one fell swoop, the careers of all the top office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India was brought to an end. Bye, bye Anurag Thakur. Farewell, Ajay Shirke. Adios, any BCCI official who doesn’t satisfy the criteria imposed by Justice Lodha’s panel.
The real impact of the decision is not known yet — reports suggest none of the current vice presidents, two of the national selectors or the many state officials will lose their positions because of the SC verdict.
This much is certain though — the next few months will see change in the BCCI administrative circles on a scale never seen before.
While there has been near universal acclaim for the role played by the Lodha panel in cleaning cricket up, one cannot help but wonder if the other sports in the country are run anywhere close to the high standards set by cricket. The fact remains that the Indian cricketers are among the most successful among sportsmen in the country and the BCCI has had a big role to play in the their success.
If you thought the BCCI was a corrupt body that was beyond saving, then the state of other sports federations in India will make your jaw drop.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA)
Well, where do we start? The partying officials in Rio — when the selfie-taking, chaos-causing Indian contingent were almost thrown out of the games village? Or the appointments of Suresh Kalmadi (the man who was jailed for 10 years for his role in the CWG scam — and the man who allegedly faked dementia to get out of jail) and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents? Or remember the time when the country’s association was suspended and there was a worry India won’t be able to compete under the tri-colour?
Yep, good times.
India’s athletics performance, except for Neeraj Chopra’s Under-20 world record, was one filled with regrets in 2016. A record 34 track and field athletes (out of India’s total 117) took part in the Olympics but in the end, except for Lalita Babar it turned out to be a mere presence. The controversy over the Athletics Federation of India failing to provide water for OP Jaisha in the Olympics marathon merely added salt to the wounds.
India had the third highest Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) in 2014, with 96 cases, behind Russia (148) and Italy (123), according to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report. In that, athletics contributed most dope cheats with 29 cases, followed by powerlifting (23) and weightlifting (22) as the trend of the last few years continued.
And finally, athletes missed out on making the Olympics qualification because there was no back-up power supply during the Indian Grand Prix, meaning timings were not recorded — the event proved to be an utter farce.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI)
Nine shooters, including two former Olympic medallists, went to Rio 2016. Number of medals? Zero. Number of shooters who reached the final of their events? Two.
Earlier this evening I handed over the report of the NRAI review Committee to the President of the NRAI. pic.twitter.com/vpeSN12ByN— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) September 29, 2016
We’ll just leave you with the text from the Abhinav Bindra-led review committee’s report:
The committee was unanimous in its view that Indian shooting needs to change, change its attitude, its policies and practices, so that the booming talent gets a fair chance to flourish in a healthy atmosphere, and win all the medals that it can in the World Championships and the Olympics. The ‘chalta hai’ attitude that shadows Indian sport has to be stopped. The NRAI has to shed excess flab and needs to become a lean and mean fighting machine to ensure the implementation of a system that will churn out Champions. At present the system is adhoc. There is no systemic framework in place.
Well, until recently, the country did not even have a recognised federation — for which Abhay Chautala, the man who was controversially made IOA Life President, was held responsible.
But after four years of administrative bedlam that culminated into a medal-less Olympic campaign, Indian boxing has only taken its first steps towards a possible revival of fortunes.
Just three men could make the cut for Olympics, a sharp decline from the seven men and one woman who represented India at the 2012 London Games.
Severely short of international competitive experience, courtesy India’s suspension which ended only after the Games, the Indian boxers were left handicapped in the ring.
All India Tennis Authority (AITA)>
The Indian tennis saga could have a saas-bahu type soap opera on it’s own. Just sample this.
- Before Olympics, Rohan Bopanna wrote to the AITA saying he doesn’t want to partner Leander Paes. But AITA made them partners, they lost in the first round after it was reported Paes did not even make it to a practice session in Rio.
- Recently, the Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj was told he’d be leaving his role — a decision that left him fuming at the AITA.
- And then Rohan Bopanna, still the best ranked player in India, was dropped from the doubles squad to accommodate Paes and Saketh Myneni — a news he came to know through media. The AITA said they did not see any point in telling players they are dropped — “Something we never did, something we are unlikely to do again.”
- Somdev Devvarman, India’s best singles player in recent times, announced retirement at 31 years of age. He said a few days later: “They [AITA] were not interested in helping, in creating a culture and system and I realised that pretty quick. I was called for Davis Cup in 2007 and was stranded at the airport and then I realised they were a bunch of…,” he stopped short.
- And today, it emerged that Bopanna was axed because AITA believes he faked an injury for the Davis Cup tie against Spain.
What an almighty mess!
The state of Para-athletes
In March 2015, the national para-athletics meet in Ghaziabad — to put it mildly — was a fiasco. There were no ramps provided for the differently abled athletes, the toilets were filthy, the rooms were cramped and dirty. The meet was organised so badly, that — along with infighting in the Paralympics Committee of India — led to the association being de-recognised internationally. A few months before the Paralympics in Rio, the athletes did not even know if they’d be participating in the biggest event of their lives.
And there is also the story of how the para-badminton champions were cheated — para badminton was rife with misuse of funds, exploitation of power, shirking of responsibility, lies, revenge and ego clashes.
All India Football Federation
Do not get fooled by India’s highest-ever FIFA ranking in six years. Do not get fooled by the massive turnout at the grounds for the Indian Super League. Things are not alright with Indian football. You’ll not find another country which has had three different revamped leagues in a matter of few years — there was the NFL at the turn of the century, then there was I-League (which is, perhaps, in its last days) and then now, there is ISL. Famous clubs have shut down, the federation still doesn’t know what the path forward for the leagues in India is and the clamour for getting a unified football league hasn’t died down
And it doesn’t stop there…
There was the Narsingh Yadav saga — first, Sushil Kumar alleged favouritism against the Wrestling Federation of India for not giving him trials. And there was the doping allegation against Narsingh, which ended up being a fiasco played out in national media. Hockey India, which is overseeing a relatively successful period right now, was until recently shrouded with it’s own power struggles with factions forming inside the governing body.
No wonder then, that a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by former Olympians asking for the Lodha reforms to be implemented across sports. If cricket needs a clean up, the rest of the sports need a overhaul. And that starts with the government-run sport federations.
Because, whether we like it or not, cricket was still the best run sport in country, perhaps by far.