Eyeing a fourth term as the Asian Athletics Association’s president, scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi is in for a tough fight as he takes on Qatar’s Dahlan Jumaan Al-Hamad in the elections of the continental body, which meets here for a crucial two-day Congress starting on Monday.
Mr. Kalmadi, who is out on bail after spending 10 months in jail for his alleged involvement in the Commonwealth Games scam, will preside over the Congress and seek a re-election.
“But it is going to be a very tough fight and his chances are 50-50. He is not a sure-shot favourite to get a third term,” an Athletics Federation of India source told PTI.
Mr. Kalmadi will be locked in a straight fight against Qatar Athletics Federation President Al-Hamad, who is also senior vice-president of the Asian body, on the last day of the Congress on July 2.
The biennial Congress, before the July 3-7 Asian Athletics Championships, at a five-star hotel here will also be attended by IAAF president Lamine Diack, besides some top officials from the AAA and the world body.
The Congress, which is the governing body of the association, consists of a Council and not more than two delegates from each member of the AAA. However, each member country will have only one vote in the elections.
The Athletics Federation of India is likely to be represented by its president Adille Sumariwala and Secretary C.K. Valson.
“The Congress which is normally held before the start of the biennial Asian Championships will discuss mostly routine matters like the progress reports of the last two years, the competitions held and financial matters,” an AAA functionary said.
The other members of the AAA Council -- a senior vice-president, five vice-presidents and eight Executive Members -- will also be elected.
The Secretary-Treasurer is appointed by the incoming president and it will have to be seen whether the incumbent -- Maurice Nicholas of Singapore who has been holding the post for the last 40 years since the inception of AAA -- will continue or not.
Mr. Kalmadi has been at the helm of affairs of the AAA since 2000. Though he has decided not to hold any sports post in the country, he is seeking re-election for the top job of the continental body.
Ironically, though, he will not be involved in the conduct of the Asian Championships which is being held in his home town which he is representing in the Parliament.
Mr. Kalmadi’s candidature has got the backing of the AFI which said it did not want to lose a seat in AAA Council.
“The AFI has forwarded the name of Mr. Kalmadi. It was the decision taken in the 2008 general body that if the IAAF allows his nomination, we should have no objection in sending his nomination,” said Mr. Sumariwala.
Section 4(a) of Article VI of the AAA Constitution says: “A council members loses his membership in the council if he loses his membership in his National Association, unless otherwise his national association formally recommends the continuation of his membership in the Council.”
The Kalmadi camp is confident that he will be re-elected though it appears to be heading towards a tough fight.
“Before 2000, there were only two competitions in Asia -- Asian Junior and Senior Championships -- but now we have a host of other events in a calendar year like the Asian Grand Prix, Asian All Star, Asian Race Walk and Asian Marathon. We are hoping to get majority vote out of the 45 member countries,” an AFI official said.