NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The defiant Indian Olympic Association (IOA) finally slammed its door on corrupt officials on Sunday in a precariously late act of compliance to get the country’s Olympic ban overturned.
The IOA remains suspended for going ahead with its December 2012 election in which Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in jail on corruption charges, was voted in as secretary general.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) subsequently offered a lifeline, and a December 9 deadline, for the dithering IOA to bar all tainted officials from contesting its elections.
“We’ve amended the constitution. Once the amendment is accepted (by IOC), they’d revoke the suspension so that we can conduct a fresh election,” senior IOA official S. Reghunathan, who chaired Sunday’s meeting, told reporters.
According to the amendment, officials with serious corruption charges against their names would be suspended if they do not resign and they cannot contest in IOA elections.
Reghunathan said both Bhanot and Abhay Singh Chautala, who was elected IOA president in last year’s controversial election, would step down as they did not want to be a “stumbling block in the way of revocation of suspension”.
Chautala was rather frank about the real reason for his move.
“We are stepping down in the interest of the Indian athletes, and also under pressure from the IOC,” he said.
The year-long suspension has cost India IOC funds, while its athletes have been banned from competing under their country’s flag.
Reghunathan said it was imperative to get the ban lifted ahead of an important 2014 that will see India compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Asian Games in Incheon.
“We want Indian athletes to compete under Indian flag,” he said.
After the IOC accepts the amendment, IOA would hold a fresh election on February 9, Reghunathan added.
Editing by Patrick Johnston