Sunday, February 15, 2009

No pedal pushers for Games

No pedal pushers for GamesForget getting ready for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the faction-ridden Cycling Federation of India (CFI) is yet to select a core group of riders for the quadrennial showpiece the Capital will host.

Even as the Games’ stakeholders get into overdrive sprucing up the city, preparing athletes and world-class infrastructure, absolutely nothing has been done at the ground level to prepare cyclists for the showpiece event, expected to cost the country in excess of Rs 1,000 crores. “We have selected the core group of athletes in each and every discipline long time back but cycling has become a real problem for us,” conceded a senior Sports Ministry official.

“The CFI is mired in litigations. We always hit a dead end whenever we sit down to select the core group of 50-60 cyclists. How can we chalk out a programme when we don’t have records, list of cyclists, their performance etc? Here we are building a velodrome worth crores and we don’t even have the list of cyclists who would be competing in the Games,” the official said.

“There are so many things to be done, like chalking out a programme for them, arranging foreign coaches, sending them on exposure trips, holding camps, assessing their performance etc. It’s a sad situation,” the official said.

It is learnt the government has earmarked Rs 42 crores for training cyclists but there are no takers. Sources said that the Ministry had stopped the funding and grants of the CFI and competitions organised by it are not recognised.

The Ministry has approached the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for redressal. “Since they are logged in a dispute, things cannot stop. We have asked the IOA to form an ad-hoc committee or send their representatives for the meetings,” said Sport Ministry’s joint-secretary I. Sriniwas. “There are provisions in the IOA to resolve the issues. Once they are able to tell us in a firm manner, we will start the process,” he said.

The root of the problem is the litigation between S.S. Dhindsa, ‘former’ CFI president and MP, and Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, former Agriculture Minister of Haryana. Sandhu had ‘won’ the elections in April last year but Dhindsa filed a petition in court seeking stay.

While Dhindsa, who has served as CFI president for three terms, couldn’t be contacted, the vice-president in Sandhu’s group, S.K. Sharma, said his team had won the elections fair and square and should be heading the CFI. “The Ministry and the IOA should intervene and restore our position. Or, the least the IOA can do is form an ad-hoc panel. At least the process should start,” he said.