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India's sports bureaucracy booted from the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee decided Tuesday to suspend the Indian Olympic Association, citing bad governance and meddling by the Indian government.

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"To preserve the autonomy is 50 percent of the decision, while the other 50 percent is the bad governance of the IOA itself," he adds. "When we will have both things that will be reversed, the IOC will reanalyze the situation and lift the suspension.

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The Indian sports minister Jitendra Singh has blamed the IOA for the embarrassment. "The Indian Olympic Association is to blame for the current crisis. We told the IOA many times to amend its constitution and be compliant with the international rules," he told the Press Trust of India.

Beyond the technicalities, the issue is corruption and in-fighting among two factions within the Indian Olympic Association. IOC member Randhir Singh withdrew his candidature for the post of secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association a month ago, leaving only one candidate in the race, Lalit Bhanot. Mr. Bhanot is out on bail after having served 11 months in jail for corruption charges in the XIX Commonwealth Games the IOA organized in Delhi in 2010.

India had hoped a successful Commonwealth Games would set the stage for a serious bid to host the Olympics, but instead the event was tarnished by shoddy construction, corruption allegations, and ticketing problems. 

The IOC Ethics Commission had in October warned the Indian body against fielding either Bhanot or former IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi – who is also on bail over corruption charges. Many, including shooter Bindra, were opposed to Bhanot’s candidature pending corruption investigations.     

The IOA president-elect Abhay Singh Chautala, known to be close to Kalmadi, has accused Randhir Singh of causing India’s suspension. "When he realized he did not have the majority to win the elections, Randhir used his contacts in the IOC to get at us," Mr. Chautala told AFP.

However, Mr. Singh tells the Monitor, ”This impasses will need to be resolved by the IOC, the IOA, and the Indian government together. It is definitely an opportunity for India to clean up its sports administration.”  

Pradeep Magazine, the sports commentator, says that the Indian Olympics Association seemed to think the IOC would not take such a harsh step. They thought India was a powerful country the IOC wouldn’t want to embarrass, as the IOC also lets countries like China interfere in the functioning of their Olympic associations. The IOC however, has treated India like, say, Iraq or Iran.”    

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