Indian athletes will soon be forced to accept their medals at international events under the flag of the respective international sports federation, not the Tricolour. This almost happened in Yerevan, Armenia, on Friday. Boxer Narender (silver in the +91 kg category), Sandeep (bronze in 75 kg) and Lalit Prasad (bronze in 49 kg) were spared the embarrassment only because the World Youth Boxing Championship had started before the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was suspended.
“Our boys were lucky this time. It could have been the international boxing federation (AIBA) flag. Now that both IOA and Indian Amateur Boxing Federation are suspended, our athletes won’t have the honour of watching the national flag raised at events,” a senior IABF official said on Friday.
This episode took place hours after AIBA suspended IABF on Thursday, citing non-compliance of rules in the September 23 elections held at Patiala. Though the Union sports ministry was happy to learn the fate of the Abhay Singh Chautala-led federation, it swung into action when news from Yerevan poured in.
The IABF had, in its last elections, nominated three-time president Chautala as chairman with voting rights, much against the spirit of the government’s sports code. The AIBA received a series of complaints, with many alleging rigging. Abhishek Matoria, a Rajasthan MLA, was elected as president of the national body.
“Further to the International Olympic Committee’s suspension imposed on the IOA, the international boxing association (AIBA) executive committee bureau has decided today (Thursday) to provisionally suspend the IABF,” the world body of boxing said in a statement, adding, “this provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF’s election. AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA president, as former chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election.”
A stunned IABF invited the AIBA for talks and even offered to conduct fresh elections. For once, Chautala looked rattled and spoke about his willingness to quit the IABF chairman’s post.
“We will ask the AIBA to speak with us. They can send observers and we can have fresh elections. If they have a problem with me being chairman of IABF, I’m willing to give it up,” Chautala said after his five-member delegation called on Union sports secretary Pradeep K Deb on Friday.