Tuesday’s announcement came following an ongoing war-of-words between the IOC and India’s National Olympic Committee (NOC). The IOA had been scheduled to hold an election that would have seen Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody last year following corruption charges that hit the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, appointed as the organisation’s new secretary general.
Bhanot, who is now out on bail, was seemingly set for the post after a rival candidate removed their candidacy. The IOC has been angered by government interference in the elections and had written to the IOA warning of a possible suspension. “They are not entitled to have elections and if for some reason they go ahead this will not be recognised,” said the IOC’s Pere Miro, who is in charge of relations with NOCs. “This is because this is part of a full problem. The election process has been tarnished since the origin. Many different interferences, many governmental rules and their own bad interpretation of IOA statutes.”
Miro said Kuwait had avoided a similar suspension after it amended its sports law, adding that India’s ban was caused by government interference and bad governance by the IOA. “What happened in the past is null and if something happens now it is the same,” Miro added, according to Reuters. The IOA has been ordered by a Delhi court to hold the elections in-line with the government’s sports code, while the IOC wants the organisation to abide by the Olympic charter. Abhay Singh Chautala, who is expected to become the new IOA president, criticised the IOC’s decision.
“This is wrong and completely unilateral,” said Chautala. “We'd go to the IOC again and explain them of the actual situation and the details of the election. This ban was completely thrust on us. It's a unilateral decision. The IOA acting president had written to the IOC but they didn't reply. I had also written a letter saying we are sending two members to explain the situation and requested for appointment. Again there was no answer to that.”
Acting IOA president VK Malhotra stated his belief that the organisation had been placed in a difficult situation. “We had gone to the Prime Minister and asked him not to pass that controversial bill,” he said. “The bill was not passed but the code was imposed. That's how the problem started. Now the IOC is complaining of government interference, while court and government want us to go by the code. We were caught in the crossfire. We will try and find some reconciliation so that our athletes don't suffer.” The IOA has been a source of continuing concern for the IOC. In March, the IOC stated it would take no action against disgraced former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi as he had effectively relinquished his role at the organisation. After serving a nine-month prison sentence Kalmadi was released on bail in January having been arrested in April 2011 on charges of inflating tenders worth millions of dollars for equipment used at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.