By Duncan Mackay
December 1 - Suspension for the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has moved a significant step closer after it was confirmed that Lalit Bhanot will be unopposed as secretary general at the organisation's election on Wednesday (December 5) following the withdrawal of his rivals.
Bhanot spent 11 months in custody last year following corruption charges linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Abhay Singh Chautala, the chairman of the Indian Amateur Boxing Association, is also set to be elected unopposed for the IOA President's post after his main rival, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Randhir Singh, pulled out claiming that he had been the victim of a "slanderous campaign" against him.
The IOC had already threatened the IOA with suspension because of alleged Government interference in the election and are now set to impose the ban when its ruling Executive Board meets in Lausanne next Tuesday and Wednesday (December 4-5).
The IOA claim they have been directed by a New Delhi court to hold the elections under a controversial Government sports code, while the IOC wants it to go by its own constitution and the Olympic charter.
"He assured us that after discussing the matter he will revert to us."
Chautala has defended Bhanot's selection saying he has not been found guilty of anything yet.
"Until the court decides he is guilty, there is no restriction on him fighting elections," he said.
Both Chautala and Bhanot are close allies of Suresh Kalmadi, who is being forced to step down as President of the IOA having himself served in 10 months in prision on suspicion of corruption linked to the Commonwealth Games.
Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the acting President of the IOA, has also tried to reassure the IOC by writing to President Jacques Rogge claiming that the elections are being held under its constitution and that there has been no Government interference.
Vijay Kumar Malhotra (right), pictured at the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 with India's IOC member Randhir Singh, is hoping that he can persuade the IOC not suspend the IOA
"Our constitution does not adhere to Government guidelines in election of Executive Committee and office bearers," he wrote to Rogge.
"[The] IOA appointed a three-member Election Commission consisting of two retired Chief Justices of High Court and one retired High Court judge to conduct free and fair elections.