False start for IOA elections

The Indian Olympic Association has been banned and elections on Wednesday will be "null and void", the IOC said on Tuesday, claiming government interference in a vote that could result in a tainted official taking over as secretary-general.

"They are not entitled to have elections and if for some reason they go ahead with this, it will not be recognised," said the IOC's Pere Miro, in charge of relations with national Olympic committees.

"This is because this is part of a full problem. The election process has been tarnished since the origin. Many different interferences, many governmental rules and their own bad interpretation of IOA statutes," Miro said.

Miro, who said Kuwait escaped a similar ban due to an amendment of its sports law, said the ban was triggered by both government interference and bad governance by the IOA.

"What happened in the past is null and if something happens now it is the same," Miro told reporters.

The ban means an effective end to funding from the IOC to the national Olympic committee (IOA), no Indian officials attending Olympic meetings and Indian athletes banned from competing at the Olympics under their country's flag.

Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody last year following corruption charges that plagued the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and who is out on bail, was confirmed for the post last week after the rival faction pulled out ahead of Wednesday's election.

The IOC has been angered by government interference in the elections and had warned the IOA in a letter of a possible suspension.

"This is wrong and completely unilateral," Abhey Singh Chautala, who is expected to be elected as IOA President on Friday said. "We'd go to the IOC again and explain them of the actual situation and the details of the election. This ban was completely thrust on us.

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