India In Disarray

Kalmadi quits, doubts over timing

Leaves AFI, wants to move to the Asian level when athletics in India is in disarray


Posted online: Sunday, February 19, 2006 at 0119 hours IST

PATIALA I FEBRUARY 18: Suresh Kalmadi today resigned from a post that he had virtually monopolised - president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). He, though, remains at the helm of the Indian Olympic Association and is also serving the second term, as president of the Asian athletics body. That apart, the MP is also the chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

The only baffling part of the issue is the timing of his resignation. The announcement came during the Asian Athletics Association Council (AAAC) executives’ meeting, and not any AFI meeting. When contacted Kalmadi told The Sunday Express that his hands were full of various portfolios. Besides, he wanted to promote athletics at the Asian level: “Since I will be travelling a lot in the coming months for Asian Games and Olympic Games bids, I wanted to quit the AFI post. I wanted to resign some six months back, but the AFI did let him go. Today was appropriate time.”

It’s another matter that in his own backyard top athletes are struggling to make ends meet. That “exposure trips” to Qatar and South Africa happen in cover of secrecy, yielding no result and spending Rs 1.15 crore of the taxpayers’ money. And that the Anju Bobby Georges make it all on their own, AFI’s support for the Mike Powell cause notwithstanding. He also said somebody else should take up the responsibility at the domestic level. One name, doing the rounds is that of AFI vice-president and former sprint champion Adil Sumraiwala. He is also from Maharashtra.

Also waiting in the wings is secretary Lalit Bhanot. When asked if he was a candidate Bhanot did not say no, but just said: “The AFI executives will decide on the next president on February 26.”

Regarding the rumour that Kalmadi wanted to distance himself from the AFI and the recent WADA scandal at the Patiala camp (which saw athletes fleeing a testing procedure), Kalmadi said: “It’s all bu*****t. No body has been pinned down.”