NEW DELHI - India's sports officials on Tuesday slammed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for suspending the country's membership, saying it was "wrong and one-sided".
The IOC's executive board, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, suspended India for flouting the Olympic charter in its election process.
"I have not heard anything officially but am told that India has been suspended by the IOC," Indian Olympic Association's president-elect Abhey Singh Chautala told AFP.
"If that is true, it is wrong and a one-sided decision. We will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide our future course of action."
The IOA had been directed by a Delhi court to hold elections according to the government's sports code, while the IOC wanted it to abide by the Olympic charter that favours autonomy.
Elections to the faction-ridden IOA were due to be held yesterday but have become a formality after a rival group led by IOC member Randhir Singh withdrew from the contest last month.
It left tainted sports official Lalit Bhanot elected unopposed as the IOA's secretary-general, while Haryana state politician Abhey Singh Chautala was set to take over as president.
Bhanot is out on bail after being held in custody for 11 months last year over corruption charges during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi when he was secretary-general of the organising committee.
The IOC Ethics Commission had in October warned the Indian body against fielding either Bhanot or former IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi — who is also on bail over corruption charges.
Chautala, known to be a close associate of Kalmadi, blamed his rival Randhir for the suspension.
"When he realised he did not have the majority to win the elections, Randhir used his contacts in the IOC to get at us," he said. "He is the one who has shamed Indian sport and should resign from the IOC."
Chautala added that the IOA had no choice but to follow the government's sports code.
"We had explained to the IOC that we were ordered by the Delhi High Court to follow the sports code," he said. "We could not go against a court order. But we did not get a reply from the IOC."
India's lone individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra said the IOA deserved to be suspended. "Bye Bye IOA, hope to see u again soon, hopefully cleaner!," Bindra tweeted.
Former athlete Ashwini Nachappa said she was not surprised at the IOC's move. "We all saw it coming," she said. "I hope it helps to clean up Indian sports administration. But will it?"
Woman boxer Mary Kom, a five-time world champion who won a bronze at the London Olympics, said she was "absolutely shocked" at India's suspension.
"I don't know who is responsible for this but I know the athletes who will suffer if the situation is not resolved quickly," she added.
India's next appearance at a major international event would have been the Asian Games in South Korea in 2014.