If there’s one word that has defined Suresh Kalmadi’s long, occasionally illustrious and enormously controversial career as a sports administrator, it’s defiance.
The veteran of many an intriguing behind-the-doors battle, Kalmadi just refuses to quit, despite mounting criticism from the public, government agencies or Indian courts.
Nevertheless, life seems to have been snuffed out of Kalmadi’s reign as an administrator after the defeat to Qatar’s Dahlan Jumaan Al-Hamad in the presidential race of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) in Pune yesterday.
Coincidentally, events seemed to have come a full circle for the 69-year-old who was first elected chief of the AAA in 2000, beating Indonesian Bob Hassan in Jakarta.
Needless to say, Kalmadi’s defeat in a ‘nail-biting’ contest (he lost 18-20, with seven invalid votes) was greeted with mighty relief especially by Clean Sports India (CSI), a body championing the cause for greater transparency and accountability in sport.
“What can I say? This is something we have been demanding ever since Kalmadi was accused of massive irregularities in the Commonwealth Games,” Ashwini Nachappa, the president of CSI told MiD DAY, adding, “there was no other way to throw him out of the Asian body.
So I guess what happened in Pune is beneficial for Indian Olympic sport.” Nachappa also came down heavily on the Athletics Federation of India for not opposing Kalmadi’s bid to the top post.
“The AFI could have surely gone out and stopped him from contesting the polls. But they chose to stay silent which was really very shameful on
“How do you allow some person who has spent nine months in jail and is out on bail in the CWG scam to seek the top post of Asia’s top athletics body?” she asked.
Nachappa felt Al-Hamad is the right man to lead Asian athletics and predicted the Qatari, being a former athlete himself, would do a lot better than what Kalmadi achieved during his 13-year-reign.