From being the president of the low-profile Kho Kho federation to secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Rajeev Mehta has had a meteoric rise in Indian sports.
But the 49-year-old Mehta brought embarrassment for the country when he was arrested in Glasgow for driving without a valid licence and under the influence of alcohol. Also arrested, but in a separate incident, was senior international wrestling referee Virender Malik on a sexual assault charge.
Mehta was elected IOA secretary general in February earlier this year following which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lifted India’s suspension.
Mehta emerged as a compromise candidate and had the blessings of Haryana strongman Abhay Chautala, whose controversial election as IOA president had led to India’s suspension by the IOC in 2012.
The Dehradun-based Mehta has been extremely lucky as a sports administrator since he is the first official from a low-profile sports federation to become the high profile IOA secretary-general.
All throughout his career, he has worn multiple hats. Besides being the president of the Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI), he is also the associate vice-president of Hockey India (HI) and was the former president of the Uttarakhand Football Association (UFA).
Just before the February elections, Mehta was forced to resign as the UFA president since it would have been a violation of the IOA constitution for office bearers. Sensibly he stepped down but continues to be the associate vice-president of HI.
What helped Mehta strike gold in Indian sports was his proximity to both former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi and secretary-general Randhir Singh. Even though Randhir and Kalmadi had a fall-out after the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Mehta had good relations with both.
The very fact that Mehta held a view different from that of his president N. Ramachandran on bidding for the 2019 Asian Games shows he has a powerful following in the IOA. While Ramachandran was against bidding for the Asian Games, Mehta desperately wanted to go ahead but at the end the bid didn’t come through.
Mehta was not part of the Indian contingent but went to Glasgow in his official capacity. Mehta was an invitee of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and presented medals to winners. He and Malik will be presented in court separately Monday.
The 47-year-old Malik hails from Sonepat, a major centre for Indian wrestling. Malik was a state-level wrestler before he took up refereeing. He is now a category I referee with the international wrestling body FILA.