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Olympic committee ends India's suspension amid Winter Games

MUMBAI, India -- Ending an embarrassing chapter in the annals of sport in this country, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday lifted a ban on India after corruption-tainted athletic officials were removed from their posts.

It was the first time that a country’s suspension was lifted during an Olympics. In a symbolic gesture, officials said the Indian flag will be raised in the Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia, where two Indian skiers and a luger had been competing as independent athletes under the Olympic flag.

The Indian athletes will march under their country’s tricolor banner at the closing ceremonies in Sochi on Feb. 23, the IOC said.

India’s membership in the IOC was suspended 14 months ago after two officials who had been implicated in corruption scandals were elected to top posts in the national Olympic association. India rewrote its Olympic rules but failed to hold fresh elections until Sunday, two days after the Sochi Games began.

IOC officials traveled to India to observe the elections, which saw N. Ramachandran, head of the World Squash Federation, chosen as head of the Indian Olympic Assn. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the committee’s executive board decided to reinstate India at an ad hoc meeting in Sochi.

“The IOC has informed us through telephone that the ban on India has been lifted,” the association’s new secretary-general, Rajeev Mehta, told Press Trust of India on Tuesday. Mehta replaced Lalit Bhanot, who spent 10 months in jail on corruption charges related to his handling of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

India, the world’s second-most populous nation, has never won a medal at the Winter Olympics. Its best-known athlete at Sochi, Shiva Keshavan, competing in the luge, is already out of medal contention but became an Internet sensation after a video showed him tumbling off his sled on a training run at 70 mph but flipping himself back on and continuing the run.

shashank.bengali@latimes.com

Twitter: @SBengali

 

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