Sports Governance in India

Mains Marks Booster     1st August 2023        
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Recent context: The Supreme Court (SC) is investigating women wrestlers' sexual harassment claims against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President, raising worries about Indian sports governance.

Current status of Sports governance in India

Sports Governance in India

Two organisations govern Indian sports:

  1. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS): The MYAS administers several government agencies, including the Sports Authority of India (SAI), which provides athletes and coaches with infrastructure, training, and funding.
  2. Indian Olympic Association (IOA): The autonomous IOA represents India in the International Olympic Committee and other international sports federations. It also hosts national sports competitions.

Issues with the current Sports governance of India

  • National Sports Federations (NSFs) lack autonomy and responsibility: NSFs are organisations that regulate and develop several sports in India. 
    • They are associated with the IOA, which is the governing organisation for Olympic sports in the country.
  • NSFs are expected to be autonomous and democratic organisations that adhere to good governance concepts such as openness, participation, and justice. 
    • However, many NSFs are plagued by nepotism, favouritism, and political and bureaucratic intervention.
    • In July 2010, the Central Vigilance Commission reported violations in 14 Commonwealth Games projects in India. 
  • Some NSFs have been led for decades by the same person or family, with no elections or term limits.
  • Some NSFs have also been accused of misappropriating funds, breaking rules, and discriminating against athletes for a variety of reasons.
    • The Delhi Police detained three cricketers for spot-fixing and betting in the 2013 Indian Premier League.
  • Coordination and collaboration among various parties are lacking: The MYAS, the SAI, the IOA, the NSFs, state governments, the commercial sector, and civil society are all active in sports development and management in India.
  • Cooling off period for the sportsmen: The BCCI, in its recent amendment in constitution, has sought the abolition of a cooling-off period for its office bearers.

Way ahead

  • India needs strong sports legislation that covers all aspects of sports and gives no authority arbitrator powers. 
  • The Sports Development Bill, 2011 and Sports Development Code, 2011 attempted to make the National Olympic Committee (NOC) responsible for two-year National Games and four-year fair and transparent elections. 
  • The retirement age for office bearers should be 70 years, and at least 25% of the Board Members shall be eminent athletes. 
  • The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) needed to be revamped.
  • National Anti-Doping Act 2022 was enacted to ensure highest standards of integrity while participating and preparing for sports competitions, domestically and internationally.
  • The Act creates a National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports and a legal framework for the National Anti-Doping Agency, the National Dope Testing Laboratory, and other dope testing labs. 
  • Punishment: Anti-doping violations can lead to disqualification, forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, ineligibility to compete for a period, and financial penalties. 
  • Cooling off period for the sportsmen should be mandatory.
  • Representation and protection of Women: We can adopt the model of World Athletics which pledged to have 40% female representation in its Council, the all-powerful decision-making body, and a woman vice president this year in a significant step towards gender equity in the sport.
  • Similarly, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 should be applicable in the case of sports.
  • Other reforms needed such as, Bottom-Up Reforms, Creating Sports Awareness, Empowering Athletes and autonomy and auditing of sports federations on regular basis.


Sports have a big role in national pride and psychology; hence the state must be involved in sports governance. It must be delicate to avoid violating the Olympic charter. To create a national sports culture, the primary education system must be reformed.

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