New Delhi: Sports Minister Jitendra Singh expressed disappointment over the Indian Olympic Association holding the Sports bill responsible for the country's suspension from the Olympic movement, terming it as "very, very unfortunate".
"I am deeply shocked and upset after reading the contents of the letter. It is delayed tactics. As far as the Sports bill is concerned, priority of the government is to get the bill passed by both the houses of the Parliament and make it into a law," said Jitendra. "IOA coming out with the excuse that only because of the Sports Bill, the Indian body has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is very, very unfortunate for sports," he added.
The minister said that if the IOA was not interested in fixing new dates for the meeting with the IOC, he himself would go to Lausanne, Switzerland and try to resolve the matter. "I will appeal to the IOA to quickly fix the dates. If they are not going then the ministry will or I will personally go there (Lausanne) and speak to the IOC," said Jitendra.
A day after the joint meeting, earlier scheduled to be held in Lausanne on April 15 and 16, was postponed for the second time in two months last week, IOA acting chief V K Malhotra wrote a letter to the IOC accusing the Sports Ministry of acting against finding a way to the country's return to the Olympic movement. Malhotra wrote in the letter that the action of the Sports Ministry of appointing a committee to re-draft the controversial Sports Code negated the very purpose of having a joint meeting of the IOC, IOA and the government.
"We appreciate your concern for an early solution to the problem but we are rather constrained to say that the Ministry of Sports, Government of India is bent on destroying autonomy of the IOA and the National Sports Federations. The same is not acceptable to us," Malhotra had wrote in the letter addressed to IOC chief Jacques Rogge. "While we endorsed your move for a dialogue involving the government, it has gone ahead and constituted a committee to re-draft the controversial sports bill, which is in total breach of the Olympic Charter," Malhotra further wrote.
He claimed that the government was trying to give a new colour to the Sports Code and that was the cause of IOA's ban. On Vijender Singh's drug scandal issue, the minister said unless he gets the result of the test, he would like to make a comment.
The Olympic bronzer medallist boxer's urine and blood samples were taken last week for an out-of-competition dope test by NADA officials, who are apparently under pressure from the Sports Ministry. The ministry had stepped in to clear the air on Vijender, who has maintained a stoic silence after his initial denial of having taken heroin.