IOC’s Bach: India could be kicked out of Olympics

India faces the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the Olympics

unless it keeps corruption-tainted officials out of its ranks, IOC

President Thomas Bach said in an interview with The Associated

Press.

Bach said the IOC is prepared to withdraw recognition of the

Indian Olympic Association if it fails to comply with ”rules of

good governance” by Tuesday, a punishment that would leave the

world’s second-most populous nation out of all Olympic

competitions.

”It’s about the principles,” Bach said. ”Good governance for

the IOC is a key issue. We need to be strict and to make sure the

rules of good governance are being applied.”

If India is thrown out, it would be the first time a country has

been kicked out of the Olympic movement since South Africa was

expelled for its racial segregation policies more than 40 years

ago.

The Indian Olympic body is scheduled to meet Sunday in New Delhi

to consider amending its constitution to meet the IOC’s directive.

If there is no breakthrough, the International Olympic Committee

executive board is set to recommend ”de-recognition” of the

Indian committee at its meeting on Tuesday in Lausanne.

”`We will see if there is any last-moment movement,” Bach

said. ”If not, then we have to consider to take the next

step.”

The IOC suspended the Indian body a year ago because of

government interference in its election process. While many of the

issues have been resolved since then, the Indians have yet to agree

to the IOC demand to bar officials who have been charged with a

criminal offense – an impasse that has led to the final

ultimatum.

”The (Olympic) charter is clear,” Bach said. ”If the

suspension leads to no solution, then further steps could be

withdrawal of recognition.”

It would be the first major ruling of the IOC board under Bach,

who was elected president on Sept. 10, succeeding Jacques Rogge.

Bach is the former president of Germany’s national Olympic

committee.

The IOC executive board could take a preliminary decision on

withdrawing recognition of India. A final ruling would go to the

full IOC, which next meets in early February in Sochi, Russia, on

the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

”Withdrawal of recognition would mean there is no NOC (National

Olympic Committee) any more in India,” Bach said. ”That means no

participation, no subsidies.”

Under the current suspension, the Indian body has stopped

receiving IOC funding and its officials have been banned from

attending Olympic meetings and events. India’s athletes are barred

from competing in Olympic events under their national flag.

Stripping India completely of IOC recognition would leave the

country without any Olympic involvement. It would keep Indian

athletes out of the Olympics and related events such as the Asian

Games. Other international federations could also follow suit.

The IOC has given athletes from suspended nations the chance to

compete as individuals under the Olympic flag. It’s unclear what

options could be open to Indian athletes if their Olympic body is

expelled.

”In the Olympics we would have to see whether we would find

individual solutions, but they could in no way represent India,”

Bach said. ”We always want to protect the interest of the

athletes. We have to consider a way. I cannot tell you what the

result will be.”

The IOC said India has three athletes, including two skiers and

a luger, who have qualified for the Sochi Games. Sanctions would

hurt more for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. India’s

participation could be affected for the 2014 Asian Games in

Incheon, South Korea.

The IOC has been involved in discussions with India for months.

The main issue stems from last year’s election of IOA

secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who had been jailed for 10 months

in a corruption case related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New

Delhi.

The IOC has told the Indian body that anyone charged with an

offense by Indian police should be barred from holding office. The

Indians have proposed that the directive be limited to barring only

those found guilty and sentenced to a jail term of two or more

years by a court.

”This is the only remaining point,” Bach said. ”It’s about

good governance and nothing else at this moment. All the other

issues have been solved in cooperation with the NOC, with the

government.”

The IOC formally expelled South Africa from the Olympics in

1970. The country, which had last competed at the 1960 Olympics,

returned to the fold at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

In recent years, the IOC suspended the national Olympic bodies

of Kuwait, Ghana and Panama for political interference, but all

were eventually reinstated.