Rohan Fernando set to run on anti-corruption platform

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Rohan Fernando, the President of the Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka, who over the weekend confirmed his candidacy for the Presidency of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, says he will run on a platform of good governance and anti-corruption.

“We want to ensure that sports in the country will be free from corruption,” he said, while speaking to the Daily FT. “The thing is if you’re not open, if you’re not accountable, if you’re going with the same old rogues, you might get into a bigger mess because people will not support you.”

The Daily FT understands that Fernando has the backing of several sports federations, with his running mates and campaign details to be announced in the coming days. Speaking broadly on what he hopes to do if elected, Fernando spoke of the importance of equitable distribution of resources and implementing a KPI-based system for federations. 

“The bigger associations have a structure, an operational mechanism. But there are so many other associations like archery and rifle shooting, where we have gold medal hopes in the world, who don’t have an administrative structure or even a base of operations. That is something we’re trying to change.

NOCSL under a cloud

Fernando will be running against veteran tennis administrator Suresh Subramaniam, who has been backed by outgoing President Hemasiri Fernando. Fernando has been in the post since 1997, though his term in charge has been blighted by accusations of corruption, with next month’s Elective Annual General Meeting the first since 2009. 

Fresh polls were last due to be held in July 2013 but had to be postponed after the International Olympic Committee ruled that the regulations introduced by the Ministry of Sports back then were intrusive and did not create the environment for an impartial election. The IOC had at the time instructed the NOCSL to run affairs with existing office-bearers until the revision of the NOC constitution, which an IOC statement issued on 27 November 2013 asked to be completed within six months - it eventually took over four years.

As such it was November 2017 when the NOCSL held its next General Assembly, with its first Elective AGM in nine years to be conducted on 23 February 2018. However, for this to happen the NOCSL needs to adopt its audited accounts, which Secretary General Maxwell hopes to do at two separate office-bearers’ meeting - the first since 2013. 

The first meeting on 18 January is expected to see the adoption of accounts from 2009 to 2012 while another meeting has been called for 25 January to adopt the accounts from 2013 to 2016.The rushed nature of the meetings are down to the fact that the NOCSL had only sent their financial statements for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 to the Auditor General’s Department in August and September last year. It is also unclear as to why the NOCSL failed to adopt its accounts for the period from 2009 to 2012 when the full executive committee was last in control - a stance which can be seen to show a disregard for the Sports Law and the governing principles of the Olympic Charter of transparency and accountability. 

The Sports Ministry for its part has called for explanations from the NOCSL for the unprecedented delay in submitting their accounts for auditing, which for all intents and purposes should have been audited by government auditors at the end of each financial year.

“The International Olympic Committee sends a lot of money to develop some of those areas, but that money is not being properly channelled. There are also a lot of corporates in Sri Lanka who would like to be identified with the Olympic movement. But which company will put money in a system which hasn’t even been audited yet?” Fernando asked. 

“Over the previous four years we don’t know what has happened in terms of accountability. You will only know the details once the audited accounts are presented.”