LAUSANNE: India has had its rights suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because of its stance of electing tainted officials it was announced after a meeting of the IOC Executive Board here on Tuesday.
Suspension of their IOC rights means India will not receive IOC funding and its officials would be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events.
India's athletes would also be barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag, although the IOC could allow some to take part under the Olympic flag.
The suspension comes amid an ongoing row between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the IOC over the election procedure for top posts in the national organisation due to be held on Wednesday.
A New Delhi court directed the faction-ridden IOA to hold the vote according to the government's sports code but the IOC wanted it to abide by the Olympic charter that favours autonomy and prompted its action on Tuesday.
"The Executive Board decided to suspend the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) due to its failure to comply to the Olympic charter and its statute, fail to inform the IOC in a timely manner, and as a protective measure to government interference in the election process," said IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams.
"The IOA is no longer entitled to exercise any activity or rights including financial support... until the suspension is lifted.
"The EB confirms that IOA is not entitled to hold any election until all pending issues are resolved."
Things came to a head after it was revealed that Lalit Bhanot, who is out on bail after spending 11 months in custody last year on corruption charges linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, was expected to be elected unopposed to the post of secretary-general.
The new IOA president was expected to be Abhey Singh Chautala, who has close links to former incumbent Suresh Kalmadi, who is also on bail over corruption charges linked to the Commonwealth Games.
The IOC Ethics Commission in October warned India against fielding either Bhanot or Kalmadi and has expressed concern over political interference.
Pere Miro, the IOC director responsible for relations with the National Olympic Committees (NOC), said that the whole election process was tainted.
"The election process was tarnished, in my opinion, since its origin because on one hand there was a lot of interference through different governemental groups and afterwards their own bad interpretation of their own statutes by the IOA," he said.
"Because of this, many candidates decided to withdraw because the situation was so confused that they were not ready to take part in this election."
Miro said that it was not just because of the dispute over the election that the IOA had had their rights suspended.
"To preserve the autonomy is 50% of the decision while the other 50% is the bad governance of the IOA itself.
"When we will have both things that will be reversed, the IOC will reanalyze the situation and lift the suspension.
"The IOA has lost all their rights conferred by the Olympic charter: these rights are to receive financial assistance, technical assistance and to take part in any competition under IOC jurisdiction."
Chautala, a politician in northern Haryana state, told AFP in New Delhi on Tuesday ahead of official confirmation of the suspension that it would not be the right thing to do.
"I have not heard anything officially but am told that India has been suspended by the IOC. If that is true, it is wrong and a one-sided decision.
"We will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide our future course of action."
Chautala blamed his one-time rival for the post, Randhir Singh, for the suspension. Singh pulled out of the race to become IOA president last month.
"When he realised he did not have the majority to win the elections, Randhir used his contacts in the IOC to get at us," he said. "He is the one who has shamed Indian sport and should resign from the IOC."
Chautala added that the IOA had no choice but to follow the government's sports code.
"We had explained to the IOC that we were ordered by the Delhi High Court to follow the sports code," he said. "We could not go against a court order. But we did not get a reply from the IOC."
India's lone individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra said the IOA deserved to be suspended.
"Bye Bye IOA, hope to see u again soon, hopefully cleaner!," Bindra tweeted.
India's next appearance at a major international event would have been the Asian Games in South Korea in 2014. - AFP