Indian Olympic Association (IOA) vice-president Sudhanshu Mittal has criticised his president Narinder Batra for the decision to send ‘tainted Madhukant Pathak as the athletics contingent manager to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Pathak, the former treasurer of the 34th National Games Organising Committee, is alleged to have embezzled 28.38 crore when the event was held in Jharkhand in 2011, and had to surrender before a special court in 2018.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mittal said, “As far as people like Madhukant Pathak are concerned, a person who has been jailed for a long period of time, to send them as manager of the athletic team is completely unacceptable. What kind of message you are sending? That people who are involved in sports corruption will now be representing the country. This is perverse.”
Blaming Batra directly for the decision, Mittal said that Pathak’s inclusion had been done at the insistence of the IOA president.
“ and it is being done at the insistence of IOA chief Narinder Batra. Batra has always patronised such people. I will be writing to the Prime Minister to ensure that such people should not go. And as I said these posts should rather go to the help of sportspersons,” said Mittal.
Drawing contrasts between the mother of a sportsperson, who is the manager of the fencing contingent, and Pathak, Mittal said, “There are two kind of names one is a set of people who are actively involved with sportspersons who are going. These sportspersons are medals prospects of the country and getting them to take their personal staff including their relatives likes in the case of the mother (sic).
“Mother (fencer Bhavani Devi’s mother, Sundhararaman Ramani, is the manager of the fencing contingent) has been with the sportsperson for a very long time and she has been training her. So, sending such people instead of sending non-technical people, I think it’s a step which should be welcomed,” said Mittal.
Mittal added that the need of the hour is to send more dieticians, sports psychologists, experts in recoveries to cater to the needs of the athletes, rather than send non-technical staff.
“These posts (team managers) should rather go to the helps of sportspersons. You see, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) only permit one third of the strength of the total contingent to go as technical staff. Now, that is inadequate in today’s date because of sports sciences the needs have gone up. You need dieticians, sports psychologists, experts in recoveries. So, various type of technical and professional assistance is required for athletes and sportspersons (sic).
“Otherwise, they are not eligible because of the restriction of the one third, so the quota of the IOA which it has to take to balance the contingent. So, from that quota, the IOA has given this quota to the sports federations so that these kinds of accommodation could take place. But criminals like Madhukant, if they go as manager, this is really shameful (sic),” added Mittal.
Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla said this was not the time to discuss such things. “I haven’t seen his statement but this is not the time to indulge in such politics. Our efforts now should be aimed at helping our athletes get to Tokyo safely and give their best.”