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India elects new officials in bid to overturn ban

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elected a new set of officials on Sunday hoping to overturn an Olympic ban on the world's second most populous nation.

The IOA was suspended for going ahead with its December 2012 election in which Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in jail on corruption charges, was voted in as secretary general.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) subsequently offered a lifeline for the dithering IOA to bar all tainted officials from contesting its elections and elect new ones.

"To the best of our knowledge, the IOC observer team is completely satisfied with the conduct and the fairness of the election," new IOA president N. Ramachandran told reporters after the election.

"The house has urged them to take their report back to the IOC executive board and try and make sure the athletes walk beneath the Indian tri-colour at the earliest."

World Squash Federation president Ramachandran, whose brother N. Srinivasan heads the Indian cricket board, and Kho Kho federation president Rajeev Mehta, the new secretary general of the body, were both elected unopposed.

India's Olympic suspension forced luge athlete Shiva Keshavan and alpine skiers Himanshu Thakur and Nadeem Iqbal to compete as independent athletes under the Olympic flag at the current Winter Games in Sochi.

"We will be leaving to go back to Sochi for the IOC executive board meeting and personally report on today's proceedings," Robin Mitchell, the head of the IOC delegation at the election, said.

"They will take the necessary actions and hopefully the outcome expected of today's meeting will be announced very soon."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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