A personal attack by suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Abhay Singh Chautala on Olympic champion rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra, who is spearheading a campaign to cleanse Indian sports, triggered an outcry among stakeholders in Indian sports.
Chautala’s comments came after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) remained firm on its demands to keep out charge-sheeted officials and set the IOA a deadline of Oct 31 to ammend its constitution and conduct fresh elections by Dec 15 paving way for its return to the Olympic fold. But a frustrated Chautala in a no-holds barred press conference in Chandigarh launched a scathing attack on Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist.
“Abhinav’s father has been in jail for more than a month in a cheque bouncing case. If Bindra has a problem with tainted people, then he should first disown his father or leave his father’s house immediately,” Chautala said. Bindra’s father was arrested in 2009 for alleged financial irregularities.
Chautala’s comments drew sharp criticism from all quarters. Multiple Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi, who too is campaigning along with Bindra, was also critical of Chautala.
“The 140 character limit on twitter doesn’t really help with all I want to say about the IOA attacking @Abhinav_Bindra and his family but...I promise you @Abhinav_Bindra you have all the support you need and more. Are and will always remain India’s Golden boy!!” tweeted Bhupathi.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh said that Chautala should be the last person making such comments. Chautala’s father Om Prakash, former chief minister of Haryana, and his elder brother Ajay, have been convicted in the Junior Basic Trained (JBT) teachers' recruitment scam.
“Chautala should be the last person making such statement. He should remember that people who live in glass houses should not make such statements. Bindra has every right to speak and he is fighting for the right cause,” Raninder said.
Bindra has been spearheading a campaign to cleanse the IOA of corrupt individuals.
“Ethics is one of the main reasons for our suspension. Unless we get that right, we are not going to get back in. Why is that so difficult to understand? People have to put their own interests aside. They have to look beyond their personal interests. They have to see the bigger picture,” Bindra had stated.