November 25 - The controversial elections for the Indian Olympic Association have taken a new twist after Randhir Singh withdrew his candidature for President claiming that he had been the victim of a "slanderous campaign" against him.
With Singh being the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member for India his decision could have far reaching implications and brings the threat of the IOA being suspended much closer.
The IOC have already expressed concerns on several occasions about the election, which has been rescheduled for December 5 after a new scrutineer needed to be appointed following the withdrawal of the original one because of a dispute under whose rules the poll should be held.
Singh, 66. withdrew after meeting with IOA officials.
It means Abhay Singh Chautala, the chairman of the Indian Amateur Boxing Association, is set to become IOA President as the only other candidate, Raj Chopra, has also withdrawn.
The election, however, is in danger of being declared null and void by the IOC as they are set to be held under controversial guidelines drawn up by the Indian Government, even though the IOA are opposed to the Sports Ministry's age and tenure guideline.
The High Court in New Delhi has insisted that the elections should follow the Government code but the IOC are insisting that they take place under rules laid out in the Olympic Charter and they could suspend the IOA if their wishes are ignored.
"The IOC sent a letter two days back and it was clear from that letter that these elections would not be recognised by them and India face disaffiliation if the polls are held under the Government's Sports Code," said Singh.
"The letter was written by none other than IOC chief [President] Jacques Rogge and Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and I, being an IOC member, cannot go against the institution to which I belong.
"That's why I am withdrawing my candidature."
Earlier this month Chautala's brother Ajay wrote to Rogge to complain about Singh.
Ajay Chautala, President of the Table Tennis Federation of India, claims that Singh broke the Olympic Charter by approaching the Government to seek clarification on his candidature.
"All they [my opponents] have done is stood on a platform and criticised me, they have only played to the galleries and they think by doing this they can win the elections," said Singh.
Singh claimed that he has been "distressed" by the "slanderous campaign" being carried out against him and that "he would not like to stoop down to their level of electioneering".
He had decided to put himself forward for the Presidency to replace the disgraced Suresh Kalmadi, who had held the post for 16 years but has been forced to step down following his arrest for involvement in alleged corruption linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, which he organised.
"As a sportsman I have represented the country with distinction and have never sought any office," said Singh.
"When I was given the opportunity to serve sport I did my best as a sports administrator.
"I don't have to fight the elections to clean up this mess.
"I am much better off not fighting the elections because now I will fight them as a member of the IOC.
"I am free to do what I feel like.
"I know I have the numbers to win the election, but I would not like to enter contest in an atmosphere of hate and calumny, making personal allegations.
"There has been a slanderous and malicious campaign against me by some people in the IOA.
"I will expose them but I do not want to stoop to that level."
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