By Tom Degun

Suresh Kalmadi_16-10-12October 16 - Suresh Kalmadi, the beleaguered President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), has confirmed he will not be seeking re-election to the position next month and hinted that he will retire from sports administration following a controversial career.

The 68-year-old former chairman of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games has served as IOA President for 16 years after first being elected in 1996.

He was temporarily replaced by Vijay Kumar Malhotra after he was arrested in April 2011 and kept in prison for 10 months for corruption charges linked to Delhi 2010.

But despite initially looking to retain the prestigious position at the IOA elections on November 25, increasing pressure from a number of parties, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have forced the tainted leader to abandon ambitions of re-election.

"I have served Indian sports for the last four terms as President of the IOA to the best of my abilities and have now decided to make way for a new generation of sports leaders," Kalmadi said in a statement.

"I would now like to focus on my constituency Pune (for whom Kalmadi is MP) and on my family.

"I am thankful to all the sports federations and sports professionals for their support and confidence in my leadership.

"I am sure Indian sports will achieve new heights and will soon emerge as a sports powerhouse."

The Indian Sports Ministry has welcomed Kalmadi's decision.

"This is a step in the right direction and we do hope that the other tainted and ineligible officials would also follow his footsteps and make way for the younger generation," said a spokesperson.

"The Ministry has always wanted more sportspersons to come forward and take sports in India ahead."

Suresh Kalmadi_Lalit_Bhanot_16-10-12The decision of Suresh Kalmadi (L) not to seek re-election as IOA President increases pressure on close ally Lalit Bhanot (R) to also withdraw from next month’s IOA elections

Kalmadi's announcement is somewhat surprising as he said he would only make a call on his future following the IOA's Annual General Meeting on October 18.

However, Kalmadi appears to have reacted to the increasing pressure on him from the IOC, with its Ethics Commission recommending that he be suspended from the IOA with immediate effect along with his close aides V K Verma and Lalit Bhanot, who were also arrested on corruption charges linked to the Delhi 2010.

Bhanot, Kalmadi's right-hand man who served as Delhi 2010 secretary general, will clarify his position on the elections only after the Annual General Meeting this week, while Verma, one of the Delhi 2010 senior directors, is likely to do the same.

But with all three likely to be absent from the IOA elections, the contest for President looks set to be between Indian Boxing Federation chairman Abhay Chautala and the current IOA secretary general Randhir Singh.

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