September 4 - India will not be readmitted to the Olympic Movement until it modifies its Constitution and stops tainted officials holding senior positions, it was warned here today.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last December after Lalit Bhanot, who served 11 months in custody for corruption charges relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, ran unopposed for the position of secretary general.
A series of recommendations had been proposed by the IOC, which included a clause which states that no person with a criminal conviction may run in IOA elections, in an an effort to get the ban lifted.
But a IOA Special General Body Meeting in New Delhi last month instead passed a diluted version of the proposal which meant that persons who have been convicted by a court for a jail term of two or more years will not be able to contest elections.
Not only did this mean Bhanot would be able to continue to hold office but opened up the possibility of Suresh Kalmadi, the controversial former President of the IOA and chairman of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, could also return to a position of power.
"Since the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in December 2012, the IOC has been working towards finding a solution to improve good governance within the NOC (National Olympic Committee)," they said in a statement after their meeting here today.
"The IOC provided the IOA with a roadmap and sent observers to the IOA's General Assembly (GA) that took place on 25 August.
"The EB heard a report that the GA had approved most of the amendments to the IOA's constitution requested by the IOC, but one specific clause had not been adopted.
"This clause, which deals specifically with the eligibility of members, is key to the good governance of the NOC and needs to be fully accepted before the suspended IOA can proceed with the elections."
The IOC's tough stance comes as a campaign spearheaded by some of the country's top sports personalities demanding a corruption-free IOA is gaining massive support online across social networking websites.
Started by international sailor Ajay Rau, the petition has so been signed by more than 13,000 people.
Among those backing it is Abhinav Bindra, who at Beijing 2008 became the first Indian to claim an individual gold medal at the Olympics when he won the individual 10 metre air rifle event, and wrestler Sushil Kumar, the bronze and silver in the 66 kilogram silver and bronze medallist.
"When I won the first gold medal for India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was a moment of pride for me and the entire nation," said Bindra.
"Today, I am pained to see India's Olympic dreams shattered because of corruption."
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