The Telegraph
Thursday , December 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Disgraced IOA in party mood

New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials, on Wednesday, instead of finding a solution to the suspension slapped by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), kept themselves busy with the elections of its office bearers.

The senior officials of the IOA could not come with a concrete suggestion about how to convince the IOC to lift the ban except that a committee would be formed to talk with the IOC. Some members were in favour of moving the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) but the majority was against having any further confrontation with the IOC.

While the IOC clearly said it won’t approve elections held against the Olympic Charter, there was no dearth of celebrations after Haryana politician Abhay Singh Chautala and tainted Commonwealth Games official Lalit Bhanot were elected the president and secretary general, respectively, unopposed. Chautala later hosted a dinner for his supporters in the IOA.

The one-sided elections were marked by the absence of Randhir Singh and a few national sports federations (NSFs) and state associations loyal to the outgoing secretary general.

On Tuesday, while talking about India’s suspension, IOC spokesman Mark Adams had said: “Those elections are null and void, they won’t count. They can go ahead with them but they won’t have any validity.”

IOC, who did not name Bhanot, has made it clear that apart from not following the Olympic Charter in its elections, the IOA was also guilty of allowing the tainted official to be a part of the Olympic movement. “.the IOA has been unable to observe its own statutes and the Olympic Charter and to enforce the basic principles of ethics and good governance,” the letter of suspension from IOC said.

While all the IOA officials remained united in blaming outgoing secretary general Randhir Singh for misleading the IOC, no one was able to come up with a convincing answer about how to tackle the problem that has arisen after Bhanot’s elections.

Bhanot, who spent 11 months in jail on charges of corruption before being set free on bail, remained defiant. “Elections have been held as per the court order, there is nothing wrong. Also, nothing has been proved against me. If charges against me are proved, then I would immediately resign,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday termed IOA’s suspension as “unfortunate” and said the IOC decision to attribute suspension to government interference in the IOA’s election process was “entirely misplaced”.