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Sport in Sri Lanka has been plagued by corruption and most notably by individuals who ethically aren’t fit to hold posts in sports associations.

The amendments suggested to add life to the sports law of the country have been well received by the public. But what seems to be of shame is the delay in getting the new sports constitution approved by presenting it to parliament.

This is a nation where one can survive in most institutes provided you keep mum about the wrongdoings you observe. The National Olympic Committee (NOC) sees its top most posts being occupied by the same people for many years, but no one seems to complaint, leave alone investigate into the matter.

In 2013, the then sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage encouraged a change to the sports law and invited national sports governing bodies and the public to suggest healthy amendments. One of the changes proposed was that individuals, who have not played the game in at least tournaments conducted by the sports bodies which they wish to serve as administrators, can’t contest the AGM. This healthy amendment was flouted when Aluthgamage was holding the post of sports minister. This was done when a candidate contesting the AGM of a reputed sports body received special permission to send his nominations. Why propose changes if they are not going to be implemented?

The absence of the old clause which states that a candidate can contest an AGM of a national sports body if he obtains special permission from the sports minister, has been hailed by everybody.

The new amendments suggest national bodies to appoint committees to monitor the AGMs of national sports bodies.
The new set of proposals to amend the sports law gives more recognition to the Director General (DG) of the Department of Sports Development. The old sports law of the country gave prominence only to the sports minister when dealing with the sports law.

The new proposals also state that non-nationals and people whose civic rights have been removed can’t come forward as candidates at sports elections.

There have been many instances where parents, holding posts in national sports bodies, have gone beyond their capacities to favour their off-springs. The new amendments have clearly put a stop to that kind of activity. If there are individuals who are actively involved in sport, their parents can’t contest elections of national sports bodies. These amendments also shut the door on individuals planning to enter sports administration if they are professional coaches, players or agents involved in the sale and supply of sports goods. However, surprisingly, umpires and referees are eligible to send nominations for elections.

Most often sports bodies take calculated decisions to have politicians as office bearers. This is because these politicians carry a lot of clout and can be of immense help when players tour other countries. Little issues at the airport and customs have been averted in the past by politicians serving in sports bodies. But the amendments have specified that those involved in politics either as a sitting member of parliament, provincial council or local government can’t contest sports elections.

The use of performance enhancing drugs is growing at an alarming rate in the local sports scene. The amendments specify that any person having a record of being tested positive for dope within a two year period prior to the elections shall be disqualified from sending nominations for the AGM.

It’s good to clean the sport and create a passage for administrators with a clean sheet to serve sports bodies. Aluthgamage began this endeavour with a lot of interest. Naveen Dissanayake was sports minister when some of the most vital discussions where being made to bring in these amendments. Can the present Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekare finish off a mission commenced with all good intentions in mind?

Pics by Chamila Karunarathne (2)Pics by Chamila Karunarathne