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Indian government backs IOC over ethics guidelines issued to suspended national Olympic body

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NEW DELHI - The Indian government backed the IOC on Wednesday in its bid to clean up the country's Olympic association.

The IOA was suspended by the International Olympic Committee last December for not adhering to its own national constitution during elections and for electing Lalit Bhanot, jailed for more than 10 months last year on charges of corruption relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as its new secretary-general.

"Apart from the age and tenure restrictions imposed by the sports code, the government of India also supports the efforts of the IOC to strengthen ethical standards in the IOA, through a clause which stipulates that persons standing for elections as office bearers of the IOA are free from criminal charges," Indian Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said in a statement.

The IOC, which is helping to draft a new IOA constitution, warned last week that a person charged with any criminal offence should not hold office even if the matter is still in court, which was objected to by the IOA.

"The (IOC) clause is in line with what the government has itself proposed in the draft sports bill 2013," Singh said in the statement, issued four days ahead of a special general body meeting of the IOA to finalize the new constitution.

An Olympic suspension means a national body is ineligible for IOC funding, officials from the suspended federation are barred from attending international meetings and its athletes can't compete under the national flag at the Olympics.

Indian athletes in international events like the Youth Asian Games in Nanjing, China, have been participating as "independent athletes" under the IOC flag.

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