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Suspended India gets new Olympic chief
00:18 AEST Mon Feb 10 2014

India's suspended Olympic body elected world squash chief N. Ramachandran as its president on Sunday, raising hopes of the country's return to the Olympic fold after a 14-month absence.

Ramachandran, whose elder brother N. Srinivasan was on Saturday picked to lead the International Cricket Council, was an unanimous choice for president in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections in New Delhi.

Also elected unopposed were sports official Rajeev Mehta as secretary-general and the country's tennis chief, Anil Khanna, as treasurer, the IOA announced after the general body meeting.

Ramachandran, who made an unsuccessful bid last year to get squash into the Olympic Games, served as the IOA treasurer from 2008 to 2012 and has been president of the World Squash Federation since 2008.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) froze India's membership in December 2012 and suspended it from the Games movement when the IOA elected a number of tainted officials to key posts.

The officials in the row included secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who is currently out on bail on corruption charges linked to the chaotic 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The IOA, after initially refusing to keep tainted officials out, finally accepted an IOC diktat last December to revise its constitution and elect "clean" office-bearers in fresh elections.

Representatives from the IOC were present at Sunday's elections, but it was unclear when India's ban will be lifted.

The polls, which came two days after the start of the Winter Olympics, denied India's three competitors in Sochi the opportunity to carry the Indian flag at the opening ceremony.

The team, led by luge exponent Shiva Keshavan in his fifth Olympics, are competing as independent athletes under the IOC flag.

Senior sports administrator Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who was appointed the IOA's interim chief by the IOC after the suspension, said he was hopeful India will be back in the Olympic fold within a fortnight.

"We will be be back soon. In fact, our flag could even be raised at the closing ceremony in Sochi (February 23)," Malhotra told reporters.


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