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Sports bodies must come down hard on errant officials

The returning Indian contingent at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games will surely have some sheen taken off their fifth placed (overall standings) performance after Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta and a wrestling referee Virender Malik were arrested on Sunday on different charges.

Mehta was arrested for drunken driving, while Malik, who was not a part of the official contingent, faced a much more serious charge of sexual assault.

Though they were reportedly let off for lack of evidence late last evening, as communicated by a High Commission official, there was no official word from Scotland Police, at the time of going to press.

Even as newspapers assessed the Indian performance at Glasgow (Scotland), headlines screamed about India’s shame at the Games.

This is the time when India is doing all it can to build its reputation as a multi-sport nation. Athletes are sweating hard, struggling for funds and making the most of what little they are getting. Their efforts are bearing fruit, as the medal tally shows.

India faced humiliation four years ago, post the Commonwealth Games that were held in Delhi with large scale allegations of corruption. That time too, India’s image has been dented. Meanwhile, the wrestling federation has suspended Malik.

If indeed officials bring shame to the nation, the government must ensure that they face extremely strict action, when back in India.

Suspension is only one thing; sports bodies have to consider banning them from any kind of association with sport altogether. This would not only be appropriate, but send a strong message to the officials at home and also act as a huge deterrent for officials representing the nation in any future meet.

If Indian sport has to change, we have to take into account not just athletes and facilities, but people who are in positions of power within sporting bodies.

Every single official must be held accountable for their actions, no matter how senior they are.

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