IOA defies IOC, votes

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a day before, concluded its poll process on Wednesday and came out with its new set of office-bearers, despite the world body making it clear that the elections would not be recognised.

The IOA were punished by the IOC on Tuesday for failing to adhere to the Olympic Charter and to "implement all basic principles of ethics and good governance". But at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), acting IOA chief Vijay Kumar Malhotra sought the confidence of the house about going ahead with the elections. The house agreed unanimously, stating that once the process had begun it shouldn't be stalled.

Subsequently, Abhay Singh Chautala was elected unopposed as the IOA president, while the tainted Lalit Bhanot became the new secretary general, replacing Randhir Singh, who was conspicuous by his absence. N Ramachandran (treasurer) and VD Nanavati (senior vice-president) were the others who were elected.

Bhanot's election is a major stumbling block when it comes to the current standoff with the IOC. Even before the election process had begun, the IOC letter had stated that Bhanot, Suresh Kalmadi and VK Verma - who were jailed in relation with the Commonwealth Games corruption case - should be kept away. But Bhanot insisted on his right to contest. "Everything was done as per court directives. I have not been proven guilty. I will quit, if I am proven guilty," said Bhanot.

Chautala, too, said that the IOA was not wrong in going ahead with the polls. "We will not take any hasty decisions. In 3-4 days after consultation with my colleagues we will write to the IOC, seeking their time and explain the circumstances of the elections. We hope that we will be able to convince the IOC to reconsider the suspension," Chautala told reporters.

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