By Nick Butler

The independence of the Gambian Olympic Committee must be questioned following the announcementGambian National Sports Council chairman Lamin King Colley has vowed to take a closer role in regulating National Sports Associations, including the Gambian National Olympic Committee, in order to best develop sport in the country.

Colley, a former vice-president of the Gambia Football Association who took up his current role in March, claims to be putting in place "all the necessary measures to ensure that accountability and fair play are upheld at all times".

Speaking at a National Sports Banquet honouring the participating teams of the 24th edition of the May Day Mass Sports in Cape Point, the first to be organised by the Gambian Government through the National Sports Council, he insisted that all associations must conform.

Because The Gambia is a sovereign state any sporting association "must be registered with the Sports Council after fulfilling the set criteria for running an association, and those associations must also adhere to the Council's Act".

In return for Governmental support, they must have in place proper structures and allow the youth to reform and participate in every competition that they have entered, with the right to observe the rules and constitution of that particular discipline.

He claimed the GNOC is no exception to this, and that the NSC "has the mandate to ensure that it is managed and run according to the dictates of the Council's Act and also with the IOC Charter".  

President Yahya Jammeh removed The Gambia from the Commonwealth last October ©AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Yahya Jammeh removed The Gambia from the Commonwealth last October ©AFP/Getty Images

This comes after setbacks for sport in The Gambia in recent months, including the decision by President Yahya Jammeh to remove the West African nation from the Commonwealth, meaning that Gambia will not be eligible to take part at Glasgow 2014.

Earlier this month The Gambia has been banned from all Confederation of African Football competitions for two years after it deliberately fielded overage players at a qualifier for Africa's Under-20 Championship.

It is thought this may have precipitated the intervention of Colley, with the National Sports Council officially "condemning" their action, and claiming it had caused "national embarrassment".

"The NSC has never interfered with any association, but with powers vested in the Council, we shall intervene in any association, executive committee or bureau that is found wanting, by using their position to the detriment of the athletes of the country," he said.

"I must with heaviness of heart say that our sports have suffered a great setback, this is not perfect.

"You all know some problems that have affected the entire sporting fraternity in the country, and we as the regulatory body for sports, will ensure that this will be solved in the shortest time possible."

However, given the rhetoric from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the promotion of National Olympic Committee autonomy, there will be a concern that the interference of the National Sport Council does not lead to a loss of independence for the GNOC.

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