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India suspended from IOC

2012-12-04 18:30
Olympic flag (AP)

New Delhi - India has been suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because of its stance of electing tainted officials, a source in the body confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.

Asked whether members of the IOC's executive committee had confirmed the south Asian giant's suspension for flouting the Olympic charter, the source said by text message: "It's official."

No further details were immediately available and the IOC was expected to make an official announcement later in the day in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the body is based.

Suspension from IOC membership means India will not receive IOC funding and its officials would be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events.

India's athletes would also be barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag, although the IOC could allow some to take part under the Olympic flag.

The suspension comes amid an ongoing row between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the IOC over the election procedure for top posts in the national organisation due to be held on Wednesday.

A New Delhi court directed the faction-ridden IOA to hold the vote according to the government's sports code but the IOC wanted it to abide by the Olympic charter that favours autonomy.

Lalit Bhanot, who is out on bail after spending 11 months in custody last year on corruption charges linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, was expected to be elected unopposed to the post of secretary-general.

The new IOA president was expected to be Abhey Singh Chautala, who has close links to former incumbent Suresh Kalmadi, who is also on bail over corruption charges linked to the Commonwealth Games.

The IOC Ethics Commission in October warned India against fielding either Bhanot or Kalmadi and has expressed concern over political interference.

Chautala, a politician in northern Haryana state, told AFP in New Delhi on Wednesday: "I have not heard anything officially but am told that India has been suspended by the IOC. If that is true, it is wrong and a one-sided decision.

"We will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide our future course of action."

Chautala blamed his one-time rival for the post, Randhir Singh, for the suspension. Singh pulled out of the race to become IOA president last month.

"When he realised he did not have the majority to win the elections, Randhir used his contacts in the IOC to get at us," he said. "He is the one who has shamed Indian sport and should resign from the IOC."

Chautala added that the IOA had no choice but to follow the government's sports code.

"We had explained to the IOC that we were ordered by the Delhi High Court to follow the sports code," he said. "We could not go against a court order. But we did not get a reply from the IOC."

India's lone individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra said the IOA deserved to be suspended.

"Bye Bye IOA, hope to see u again soon, hopefully cleaner!," Bindra tweeted.

Former athlete Ashwini Nachappa said she was not surprised at the IOC's move. "We all saw it coming," she said. "I hope it helps to clean up Indian sports administration. But will it?"

Woman boxer Mary Kom, a five-time world champion who won a bronze at the London Olympics, said she was "absolutely shocked" at India's suspension.

"I don't know who is responsible for this but I know the athletes who will suffer if the situation is not resolved quickly," she added.

India's next appearance at a major international event would have been the Asian Games in South Korea in 2014.

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