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Indian Boxing stars suffer second shock as IOC and AIBA suspend Indian sporting associations
by Michael O'Neill
December 6, 2012
Photo: Generic

(DEC 6) India’s boxers including Olympic flyweight bronze medallist Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte (better known as Mery Kom) are tonight reeling from a second ‘knock-out blow’ in 24 hours as the amateur sport’s Governing body, the A.I.B.A (International Boxing Association) meeting in Yerevan today imposed an immediate ‘provisional suspension’ of the I.B.F (Indian Boxing Federation). Thursday’s decision taken by the AIBA’s Executive Committee in the Armenian capital means that no Indian pugilist can participate in any AIBA events or indeed any AIBA Boxing event until the ban is rescinded. 

Only 24 hours earlier Indian sport had been rocked by the news that the country’s Olympic Association , had been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) at its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. That decision too of course impacts on all Indian boxers who are thus unable to participate in any major international events under the Indian flag, such as the 2016 Rio Olympics or the 2014 Asian Games though it is to be hoped and expected that a resolution will be found long before then.

The respected “Times of India” reported that in a major embarrassment for India, the IOC suspended the IOA because of ‘government interference in its election process’.

“The IOC said that it decided to ban India as the IOA had failed to comply with Olympic Charter and also allowed a tainted official to contest elections for a top post”.

The decision was largely expected after the IOA decided to go ahead with the elections on Wednesday under the government's Sports Code, defying the IOC's diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter.

Five time World Amateur champion , Mery Kom said she was "shocked" at India's suspension.

"I am absolutely shocked by this news," she said. "I don't know who is responsible for this, but I know the athletes will suffer if the situation is not resolved quickly."

Suspension from IOC membership means India will not receive IOC funding and its officials would be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events.

Indian Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said he does not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to interfere in the matter but will still try to engage with the IOC to get the ban reversed.

He told the newspaper : “

"It is very sad that despite IOC warnings, the IOA did not amend its Constitution. The sports code is in sync with the IOC charter, there is no difference," he added.

The International Olympic Committee’s Pere Miro late Thursday assured Indian athletes – in an exclusive interview with the ‘Times of India’ that : "We are not against the athletes " adding "Our decision is just to ensure that the governance of sport in India improves. We hope that after our action there will be a different kind of approach towards them in India."

Despite IOC's warning that the elections would not be recognized, the Indian Olympic Association went ahead and held the elections on Wednesday. Abhey Singh Chautala was unanimously elected as the president and Lalit Bhanot as the secretary. The IOC representative told TOI that it does not recognize either of them. "It really doesn't matter who was elected to the posts." Miro said. "All we want to say is that we respect the athletes and any action of the IOC is in their best interest. We do not want the athletes to suffer and I can assure them that their future is not harmed. The IOC is a body for the athletes and it will remain so."

Meantime, in a statement late on Thursday, the A.I.B. A said that “following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC's) suspension imposed on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the AIBA Executive Committee has decided to provisionally suspend the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF).

This provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF's election. AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA President, as former Chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election”.

A number of leading Indian sports stars were in no doubt as to who was to blame, almost all of them condemned the Indian Olympic Committee and several warmly welcomed the intervention of the International Olympic Committee though a few also had harsh words to say about their Government.

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