New Delhi: Around a dozen of Executive Council (EC) members of Indian Olympic Association alleged that president P.T.Usha “exerted pressure” on them to pave the way for Raghu Iyer’s appointment as CEO, a charge that the legendary athlete termed “shameful”.
Usha had issued an official statement on January 6 about the appointment of Iyer as CEO but 12 out of 15 EC members said that former Rajasthan Royals’ chief executive’s recruitment “hasn’t been ratified” by the apex body.
“… you did not list the appointment of the CEO in the agenda circulated for our previous EC meeting. While introducing the matter into the agenda unilaterally, you tried to exert pressure on us to make a rushed and hasty decision,” a letter dated January 14 and signed by 12 members of EC, stated.
“We found the manner in which you conducted the proceedings to inappropraite and not befitting of our institution.”
The letter was signed by all the EC members except for Usha, herself, Olympic medallist Mary Kom and ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal. It must be mentioned that Sharath is an active athlete.
Those who signed included senior vice president Ajay Patel, treasurer Sahadev Yadav, vice-presidents Raj Laxmi Deo and Gagan Narang, and another Olympic medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt.
“We hereby placed on record that the appointment of the CEO was not ratified by the EC. EC members were not given opportunity to peruse the proceedings of the nomination committee and understand the decision making process followed and the criteria used for selecting the candidate.”
The revolting members also alleged that Usha “unilaterally” decided on the CEO’s salary and perks, which would be a whopping Rs 3 crore per annum.
“We also requested you to give us 7-10 days time to review and negotiate the CEO’s salary before any decision was to be made. You chose to ignore all our requests, jumped the gun and unilaterally informed the press about the appointment of the CEO and also unilaterally declared what the CEO’s salary would be RS 20 lakh per month plus allowances, which brings the total CTC to around Rs 3 crore per annum.
“The communication with the press and the negotiation of compensation was done without any consultation with or decision by the EC.”
Usha replied to the letter and asserted that the appointment of CEO was discussed at length in the EC meeting and the majority of the members present “ratified” the appointment of Iyer.
“During the Emergency EC meeting held at Olympic Bhavan on 05 Jan 2024, the appointment of CEO was discussed at length under the Agenda Point No 2 (Governance Issues) and the majority of the members present, with the exception of Lt Gen Harpal Singh (Retd), Shri Gagan Narang, and Shri Yogeshwar Dutt, had expressed agreement with the Nomination Committee’s choice and ratified the name of Shri Raghuram Iyer as CEO for IOA,” she said.
“It is a matter of great shame that, on the day the CEO has taken formal charge, certain members of the Executive Council have raised concerns and objections to these decisions.”
Usha, a celebrated former athlete and also a Rajya Sabha member, also said that the International Olympic Committe may even contemplate suspension of the IOA.
“The combined decision of the majority was subsequently communicated to the IOC. This process was undertaken with transparency and in accordance with the democratic principles that govern our esteemed organization,” she said in her reply.
Usha warned members that this kind of precedence would lead to suspension of the national Olympic body.
“Any attempts to now disrupt the functioning of the office of the CEO for IOA shall have an adverse impact on the credibility of IOA. The IOC board may even contemplate suspension of the IOA for non-implementation of the provisions of the IOA’s Constitution…….”
The members asked Usha to keep the “onboarding of the CEO in abeyance until the EC has had a chance to deliberate, consider and review the matter”.
“For the purpose of this decision to be made, we will need to be provided adequate information about the current budgetary and financial condition of IOA, details about the selection process, the candidates considered, and the basis on which the short-listing decision was made.
“We would also like to bring to your attention that upon the public announcement of the CEO, we have received multiple concerning reports regarding the prior employment track record of the short-listed candidate.
“Kindly let us know whether a due diligence and background check was conducted by the IOA and please share of the copy of the same so that we can understand whether these reports have any basis.”
It must be mentioned that Iyer was Rajasthan Royals CEO when the infamous IPL spot-fixing scandal broke in 2013.
On this, Usha said, “The EC members present at the meeting, with the exception of Mr. Sharath Kamal, had recommended a renegotiation of the remuneration fixed for the CEO citing the reasons of lack of funding at the IOA.
“You would have noticed that the remuneration was reduced by over 30% of the earlier agreed pay.”
Iyer was appointed IOA CEO, a year after it was due and following repeated reminders from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The CEO will be an ex-officio member of the Executive Council without voting rights. He is not an elected member but a salaried official.
Iyer had also served as CEO of IPL side Rising Pune Supergiants.