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FIH says Batra presidential election legitimate, contrary to Mittal complaint

FIH president Narinder Batra addresses an Indian Olympic Association executive board meeting (by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The International Hockey Federation has announced that it will not take any action against FIH president Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra after a complaint was lodged against him by Indian Olympic Association vice-president Sudhanshu Mittal.

Mittal claimed that Batra’s election as FIH president in 2016 had violated FIH statutes because he was still head of Hockey India at the time.

Although a later edition of the FIH statutes forbids this, the FIH Integrity Unit said the prevailing regulations at the time of Batra’s election had no such requirement.

A statement from the FIH said: “This complaint was forwarded to the independent FIH Integrity Unit (FIU), which today decided that it will not be taking any action regarding FIH president Dr Batra in relation to this matter on the basis that the matter is not sustained.

“Indeed, according to the FIH Statutes at the time, there was no requirement for Dr Batra to change his relationship with Hockey India after his election as FIH president in November 2016. He therefore committed no breach of the procedure or the FIH Statutes.”

Mittal’s complaint to the FIH is a further sign of an escalating dispute at the IOA between a faction led by Batra and one led by IOA secretary-general Rajeev Mehta following Batra’s election as Indian Olympic Association president in December 2017.

Relations appear to have broken down after Batra asked to take over some of Mehta’s duties. Mehta rejected the request and said Batra “should have contested as secretary general of the IOA” if he wanted to take on these duties.

Mehta ally Mittal has previously written to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach calling on him to ban Batra from hockey and the Olympic movement and complaining of irregularities in the IOA election process. Batra denies the allegations.

Batra ally IOA vice-president Adile Sumariwalla has suggested Mittal harboured secret ambitions to be IOA president himself, a charge which Mittal also denies.

Batra became an IOC member thanks to his position as IOA president.