India sports change to avoid Olympic expulsion

The Indian Olympic Association amended its constitution Sunday

to avoid expulsion from the Olympics, barring officials charged

with a crime from running for elections.

The changes were made at a meeting in New Delhi just two days

before a Tuesday deadline set by the IOC. The Indian body wanted to

bar only those convicted for two or more years and leave the lesser

cases to be judged by an internal committee.

The IOA had been facing the prospect of ”de-recognition” after

being suspended last December for not following its constitution

and electing tainted officials, notably secretary-general Lalit

Bhanot, who spent 10 months in jail on corruption charges related

to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Bhanot and IOA President Abhay Chautala, charged in a

recruitment scam not related to sports, are not eligible for

elections on Feb. 9.

”The IOA has unanimously decided to amend the relevant clause

in its constitution which would bar charge-framed persons from

contesting elections,” said IOA official S. Raghunathan. ”Both

Chautala and Bhanot said they will not contest the upcoming

elections.”

The IOC had been corresponding regularly for months with the

Indian body in a bid to finalize a new constitution. But the

situation had reached an impasse during a crucial period with the

Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Sochi Olympics all

scheduled for 2014.

India, which hopes to have the suspension lifted after the IOC

approves the new constitution, had moved close to becoming the

first country to be kicked out of the Olympic movement since South

Africa was expelled for its racial segregation policies more than

40 years ago.

IOC President Thomas Bach told The Associated Press in an

interview Saturday that it would withdraw recognition of the IOA if

it failed to comply with ”rules of good governance” before an IOC

meeting in Lausanne on Tuesday. That’s when India’s case was

scheduled for discussion.

During the suspension, the Indian body has not been receiving

IOC funding. Its officials were banned from attending Olympic

meetings and events and India’s athletes couldn’t compete in

Olympic events under their national flag.