Indian athletes hope IOC ban would bring change

IOC flag

Indian athletes have lamented the ban dished out to their national Olympic association by the IOC but hope that it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise and lead to a clean-up of the organisation which runs sport in the country.

At a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday, the IOC banned the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and said a vote to elect its secretary-general on Wednesday would be "null and void".

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 left as the only candidate for the post after his rivals pulled out.

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

"This is unfortunate. As a sportsperson, I feel like I have been orphaned," shooter Joydeep Karmakar told Reuters.

"It's a big blow to us. I think the IOC is going to suspend funding and there could be other repercussions as well," added Karmakar, who just missed out on a bronze medal in the men's 50m rifle prone at the London Olympics.

"Playing under the national flag means a lot for us. Competing under the Olympic flag won't give you the same feeling.

"At the same time, I'm optimistic it would lead to a new body which would be more efficient and more responsible."

DRASTIC STEP

Former double trap shooter Moraad Ali Khan echoed Karmakar's sentiments.

"Standing on the podium with the national anthem being played and the nation's flag unfurled, it's a different feeling altogether and it has been taken away from Indian athletes," Khan told Reuters.

"But when medicine doesn't work, what do you do? You go for surgery and we had reached that stage."

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