The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has decided stop direct release of funding to the athletes, who are part of the Target Olympic Podium scheme. The athletes, under the TOP scheme, will, however, continue to receive ₹50,000 stipend per month towards their training expenses.
The Ministry has issued a notice to the 184 TOPS beneficiaries and their respective sports federations. The ministry has directed to the Sports Authority of India and the Mission Olympic Cell member national sports federations to make direct payments to the “person and institution concerned” on behalf of the athletes, Times of India has reported.
The ministry has taken the step in the wake of allegations of TOPS’ funds utilization by some of the athletes.
Athletes preparing for the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games have been receiving a monthly aid of ₹50,000 under the TOP scheme for their training and travel.
However, if an athlete hires a personal coach or plans to train abroad, the payments for the coach, the institution where the athletes will train or for athletes’ travel will be made through the national sports federation of the athlete. SAI will release the fund to the NSF.
For “services of support staff like physiotherapist, fitness/mental trainer within the country/abroad” within the country, the SAI would enter into a contract with such a trainer and his services would be utilised for other purposes during the contract period. “In case of training abroad, SAI would release funds directly to institute or athletes as the case may be,” the notification read.
However, athletes would be paid directly by the SAI “for a purchase of equipment and consumables”.
Recently, the high-profile committee, which has recommended 184 athletes for the TOP scheme, had raised concern that none of the athletes selected for TOPS have received necessary support for their training apart from the monthly stipend of ₹50,000. The direct payment of ₹50,000 stipend to the athletes was announced in September by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.