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Finally, IOA bows to IOC!

Bowing to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) pressure, the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) yesterday amended its constitution to bar tainted individuals from contesting its elections. A Special General Body Meeting (SGBM) of the country’s apex sports body also announced that fresh IOA elections will be held on February 9.

Lalit Bhanot
2012 Commonwealth Games General Organising Committee Secretary Lalit Bhanot. Pic/AFP

The IOA capitulation came in the wake of IOC president Thomas Bach threatening to throw out India from the Olympic movement. The threat on Friday worked and the IOA — suspended since December last year — amended its constitution in line with the directive by the parent body.

The IOC last month set a deadline of December 9 for the IOA to amend the constitution failing which it would recommend to its executive board, scheduled to meet between Dec 10-11, to de-recognise India.

Senior IOA official S Reghunathan, who chaired the SGBM that was attended by 134 members, said Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot, who are president and secretary general respectively of the suspended IOA, will be ineligible to contest the Feb 9 election. Both Chautala and Bhanot are facing serious charges of corruption.

Reghunathan also said that the duo need not step down now and can do so after the amendments are approved by the IOC. “The House unanimously decided to amend the relevant clause in IOA constitution which would bar charge-framed persons from contesting elections.

Both Chautala and Bhanot told the House that they will not contest the upcoming elections. In fact, Chautala proposed the amendment while Bhanot seconded it. We also decided to hold elections on February 9,” said Reghunathan, adding that the ban on India could be lifted after the IOC executive board meeting.

The IOA, during its Oct 27 SGBM, had tried its best to protect the tainted individuals by diluting the IOC directive on the charge-framed clause. It had proposed to refer such cases to its internal Ethics Commission but the IOC rejected it outrightly.

Reghunathan said that if the amendment is accepted by the IOC board then the year-long suspension will be lifted within seven days. The IOC had on Dec 4 last year slapped India with a suspension notice for its flawed election process.

Bhanot also said that he would not contest the elections. “I am not contesting elections as after the amendment is made, I am ineligible. We decided to amend the constitution in the interest of Indian athletes. I don’t want to be a hindrance to the interest of the athletes,” he said.

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