Narinder Batra on Tuesday denied flouting any rules while becoming President of the Indian Olympic Association and the International Hockey Federation as he reached out to International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach to reject allegations of irregularity from within the IOA.
Two and a half years after Batra’s election as IOA chief, one of its vice presidents, Sudhanshu Mittal, has questioned his taking up the top job, saying he was not even eligible to contest the polls under the then constitution.
Mittal, in a letter to the FIH, has alleged that a major cover up was done to allow Batra to contest the election for the top sports job of the country. Batra offered a rebuttal in a communication to Bach.
“I would personally like to assure you that I have at no stage flouted any of the Rules and Regulations of the Indian Olympic Association or the International Hockey Federation in my election as President of the Indian Olympic Association which was held on 14 December 2017,” Batra wrote.
“It is disappointing that Mr Mittal, who himself was elected as Vice President of the Indian Olympic Association in the same elections, is now trying to damage my image and reputation as a means to project himself as he intends to stand as a candidate for the post of President in the 2021 Indian Olympic Association elections.”
Mittal’s allegation is that the IOA constitution of 2013, as approved by the IOC, provided that the presidential candidate will have to be a member of the preceding executive council and Batra was not at that time.
He alleged that constitution’s interpretation was changed to membership of two preceding executive councils instead of only the last council in a Special General Body Meeting held on November 29, 2017.
In his message to Bach, Batra, an IOC member from India, accused Mittal of damaging his reputation, and claimed that a conflict of interest case can’t be made out following his election to the post of FIH chief.
“...the e-mail of Mr Mittal is self motivated and clearly his intent is to malign my reputation ahead of the Indian Olympic Association elections scheduled for 2021.
“...the above Article 7.2 is in the FIH Statutes with effect from 3 November 2018. My election to the post of the Indian Olympic Association was on 14 December 2017 and as such this Article was not applicable at the time of my IOA elections,” he claimed.
“To ensure there was no conflict of interest in my election as President, International Hockey Federation, I resigned from the post of President, Hockey India on 25 November 2016.”
Batra, who is currently under quarantine after seven people, including helpers, tested positive at his home, hoped that the IOC chief will take his clarifications “on record”, and promised to send a detailed reply once he resumes office.