Suresh Kalmadi was ousted yesterday as President of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) when he was beaten in the election by Qatar’s Dahlan Jumaan Al-Hamad at the organization’s Congress in Pune.
The controversial Indian, who had held the post since 2000, is currently on bail after spending 10 months in jail for his alleged involvement in corruption linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, which he led.
Al-Hamad, a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and President of the Qatar Athletics Federation, won by two votes, polling 20 to Kalmadi’s 18, with seven ballot papers declared invalid.
Among those who witnessed the election were Lamine Diack, President of the IAAF.
The defeat effectively signals the end of the career of the 69-year-old Kalmadi in sports administration. Following the Commonwealth Games scandal he had already been deposed as head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Kalmadi remains a member of the IAAF’s ruling Council but he is not expected to remain as a member beyond this year.
“The members have chosen nominees that they think will serve them in this Movement,” said the 56-year-old Al-Hamad. “We will work day and night to work for the Asian Federation. We cannot forget Mr. Kalmadi’s contribution. He did his best, now we have to take the baton from him and continue the Movement.”
Al-Hamad is promising to introduce new marketing programs to help raise the profile of athletics in Asia.
“There are a lot of opportunities in Asia which we still do not utilize,” he said. “I see the opportunity is there, but we are not trying to bring that opportunity through constructive planning. We lack in marketing side. The IAAF has many Asian sponsors. But AAA is not sponsored by anybody. And why? Because we are not prepared. We don’t have that final product to present. That’s why we have to have it. And I believe that business people don’t come to you unless you are really prepared and you have the right product for them. So we need to have the right product for them, the right program, the right staff, and then businesses come.”
Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.