From forming a sports election commision to cutting down the powers of sports federations to sanction professional leagues, a whole lot of recommendations were made during the Sports Law Symposium in Bengaluru, held on Saturday. Issues that have been plaguing Indian sport were dealt with in a first of the its kind recently.

The conference was attended by the likes of former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and retired chief Justice Mukul Mudgal, among others, who propsed changes to India’s sporting structure.

A total of ten recommendations were made with a view to propel Indian sports to greater heights. Bindra, who wrote the foreword for the final list of recommendations, insisted on widespread reform:

  “The urge to implement these reforms should be the top priority because the sporting lives of athletes are short. Given the current state of administration across sporting bodies, one can derail an athlete’s ambitions. Indian athletes deserve accountable and transparent systems.”  

The reforms suggested during the symposium cover the structural part of sports. They also included the integrity and representation across federations. It was suggested that athletes should have a representation across all sporting bodies. Even gender representation was touched upon. The conference also suggested rationalising the sanctioning power of sports federations for professional leagues and also keeping in mind funding.

Here are the key takeaways from the ten reforms suggested during the symposium:

Include ‘sport’ in the Concurrent List: It is important that ‘sport’ should make the concurrent list allowing both the centre and the state to have the power to constitutionalise the sport. Sports under law, comes under the entertainment and amusements. It has been seen as a recreational activity and not as a profession.

Constitute an independent regulator for sport: An independent sports regulator, instituted under legislation, should be formed along the lines of the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Such a body will ensure that federations remain independent and are supervised by an independent regulator who is not affiliated to the government.

Create a sports election commission: If such a commission is formed, elections will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner across all sporting bodies.

Constitute a sports tribunal to resolve sports related disputes: With sports disputes heading towards Indian courts most of the time, a sports tribunal will issue speedy solution to disputes. This will ease the burden on the courts as well.

Institute uniform guidelines to tackle age-fraud in sport: Age-fraud has been a constant hindrance across all sporting events. However, a uniform guideline should be formed that will ensure a level playing field for junior athletes.

Pass anti-doping legislation with mandated protocols: Doping is another problem plaguing Indian sport. Athletes need to be educated about the pros and cons of doping. National and state federations and coaches/support staff will also be held responsible for actions of their athletes.

Criminalise match manipulation: Match-fixing is not new to Indian sports especially Indian cricket. However, one has to make sure that is dealt with strictly if one has to stop the influence it might have on budding athletes.

Institutionalize athlete and gender representation across federations: Currently, there is Under-representation or rather no representation of athletes and women in governing roles in sports federations. However, that has to change to empower the sport.

Rationalise the sanctioning power of sports federations for professional leagues: If there is a separation of powers, it will result in greater transparency and reduce conflict of interest among representatives. Different functions will lead to cleaner structures.

Incentivize sports funding and participation: It is important to incentivize sport to make it more lucrative. Even companies should invest in sport as part of their CSR funding.