Sports Minister to IOC: Let tainted officials contest in Olympic body polls(Update/IOC)

New Delhi, Sept.5 (ANI): India's Sports Minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday said that he would attempt to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to let tainted administrators contest the Indian Olympic Association elections, as the law of the land doesn't debar them from doing so.

He also said he would ask the IOC to let Indian sportspersons represent the country and take part in international meets.

The IOC banned the country in December after refusing to recognise the results of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections due to government interference, which led to Lalit Bhanot,a tainted official, being named as its Secretary General.

Later, during crucial meetings in Lausanne in May, an Indian delegation of government and IOA officials assured the IOC of the Olympic movement's autonomy in the country as a first step towards mending the state of affairs and also discussed a roadmap towards getting the ban overturned.

Consequently, the IOC recently sent a 43-page draft constitution that needs to be adopted by the suspended IOA before it holds elections in September and it included a clause to bar any person charged with criminal offence from holding office.

Commenting on these developments, Singh said he would appeal to the IOC to explore an alternative method in the interest of sports.

"We are going to request and we had also requested in the past they (International Olympic Committee) should think of an alternative method in which the sportsperson of the country can contest under the Indian flag. There should be an alternative proposed by the IOC," said Singh.

Two senior functionaries of the IOC who visited India last month, subsequently offered a lifeline, asking the suspended IOA to amend its Constitution and, among other things, bar tainted officials from contesting in the elections and holding posts.

However, the IOA argued that an accused person in India can contest even for parliament since he or she is not guilty until proved in a court of law, though it could be time-consuming.

The ban on the country meant an end to funding from the IOC for the IOA, no Indian officials attending Olympic meetings and Indian athletes banned from competing at the Olympics under their country's flag.

Meanwhile, Abhay Chautala who is a career sports administrator and politician from Haryana contended that IOC should understand that India cannot go outside the nation's law.

Chautala is the current President of IOA.

"We cannot go outside the law of our land. We will make the Constitution according to the country's law. We clearly told the two members of IOC that we cannot go outside our law and eight members (tainted administrators) who are officiating here are holding the posts and in the fray after the orders of the High Court," said Chautala.

Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody following corruption charges that plagued the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and is out on bail, was named the IOA Secretary General during the controversial December elections.

Former IOA President Suresh Kalmadi was also arrested in April 2011 on charges of inflating tenders for equipment used at the Games which he was heading.

Kalmadi was released from prison after cooling his heels behind the bars for nine months while in judicial custody. (ANI)


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