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International Olympic Committee lifts India's Olympic ban

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New Delhi: Ousted from the Olympic movement due to tainted officials and government interference more than a year ago, India's exile came to an end today after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomed the country back into the fold within days of fresh elections in the scam-riddled IOA.

"The IOC Executive Board (EB) reinstated the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of India, the Indian Olympic Association, during an ad-hoc meeting in Sochi today," the IOC said in a statement. "The EB took this decision following a report about the IOA s General Assembly and elections for a new Board, which were successfully held on 9 February 2014 and observed by an IOC delegation headed by IOC member Robin Mitchell," it added.

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The IOC lifted the 14-month old ban after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) barred charge-framed officials from its fresh election in which World Squash Federation chief and younger brother of BCCI boss N Srinivasan, N Ramachandran, was elected as the president. The decision comes after the IOC's three observers for the elections left Indian shores "satisfied with the IOA elections promising to submit a "favourable report to the IOC President".

"The IOC observers told the EB members that the elections were held in full respect of the recently passed NOC constitution, which complies with all IOC requirements, including the clause that no person convicted or charge-framed can run for a position within the organisation," the IOC stated.

As a result of the IOC's decisions, the Indian athletes will now be able to compete under the national flag at international events. They had been competing as independent athletes ever since the IOA was slapped with a suspension for failing to comply with the Olympic Charter and its statutes, relating specifically to good governance. The most immediate effect of this would be seen at the ongoing Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the Indians would now be allowed to carry the tri-colour during the closing ceremony after parading through the opening ceremony under an IOC flag.

After three postponements and controversy over the participation of two members representing the suspended IOA, the meeting took place on May 15 last at Lausanne, Switzerland with Sports Minister Jitendra Singh and Beijing Olympics gold winner shooter Abhinav Bindra attending it. The IOC issued the roadmap for India's return to the Olympic fold, asking IOA to amend its constitution before July 15 and elect new office bearers by September 1 last, both under the supervision of the world body.

On August 15 last year, IOC stated that tainted persons will no longer be eligible to contest IOA elections. But, a defiant IOA refused to implement the provision, saying that it had to follow the law of the land.

The IOA even proposed to dilute the contentious clause, saying the chargesheet clause must apply only to convicted persons. But the IOC shot down any compromise formula and asked the IOA to sack "charge-framed" officials through constitutional amendments by October 31 and conduct fresh elections by December 15 last. The IOC later agreed to IOA's proposal to hold elections today after IOA agreed to bar charge-framed persons from contesting the polls

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