Now, AITA’s turn to face music from sports ministry

The sports ministry has finally decided to put All India Tennis Association (AITA) on notice to elect a new president replacing Anil Khanna immediately in accordance with the New Sports Development Code (NSDC) or face suspension.

Anil Khanna

This has come a fortnight after the ministry sent a similar notice to Judo Federation of India (JFI) president Mukesh Kumar.

Knowing AITA’s earlier stand on age and tenure issue, the showdown is looking imminent because AITA has always stood by Khanna on this issue. However, AITA stands to lose government funding in the run up to the Rio Olympics as the ministry is likely to put tennis federation under suspension for violating the Code.

However, this latest development is not likely to hit players like Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes who are being funded by the ministry under NSDC and ToPS schemes ahead of the Rio Games.

dna has reliably learnt that the ministry has consulted law ministry on the issue because the popular players could get affected by its notice. Since Khanna has not served any cooling off period after serving three consecutive terms as AITA’s secretary general, the law ministry has found sufficient reasons to recommend action against this federation.

Reacting to the ministry’s notice, AITA’s CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee has told this paper, “Since the notice has not been received till now, we are not in a position to say anything regarding this. Let us receive the notice, what the notice says and then we’ll see the legalities of it and then we will take a call on this.”

As per the ministry’s own estimate, tennis is one of the disciplines that is likely to get India “a medal” at the Rio Olympics.

A senior official in the ministry also clarified that the suspension will in no way affect the funding of tennis players. “The ministry will directly fund tennis players as it has been doing to Indian archers after Archery Association of India was suspended in 2013. The only difference would be that the ministry will not have any correspondence with AITA till it follows the NSDC,”said a senior official on Friday.