IOC suspends Ghana's national Olympic committee

IOC suspends Ghana's national Olympic committee

The International Olympic Committee executive board took the decision after months of fruitless negotiations with Ghanaian officials. The members spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.

The suspension means Ghana's Olympic committee will no longer receive IOC funding, its officials are banned from attending any Olympic events and Ghana's athletes are barred from competing in the Olympics.

The sanctions could be lifted before the London Games if Ghana complies with IOC regulations and assures the complete independence of the national body, which has been in turmoil since a disputed presidential election in 2009.

The IOC has complained in particular that government officials in Ghana are appointing the presidents of national sports federations.Ghana's Olympic committee was formed in 1952 and recognised by the IOC the same year.

The country has won four Olympic medals -- a silver in boxing in 1960, bronzes in boxing in 1964 and 1972 and a bronze in men's football in 1992. Ghana sent about a dozen athletes to the 2008 Beijing Games.

Alpine skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, nicknamed "The Snow Leopard" qualified for last year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, giving Ghana its biggest Olympic boost since 1992.

Hardest hit by the IOC suspension could be Ghana's football team. The under-20 team is the current world champion. Ghana also reached the final of last year's African Cup of Nations and the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Africa.

Ghana has also been in trouble with football's governing body. In December, FIFA gave the Ghana Football Association an ultimatum to end government interference in football matters or face pssible sanctions.Ghana becomes the second national Olympic committee under IOC suspension. Kuwait's national body was suspended early last year for political interference by the government.

Meanwhile, the IOC postponed the threatened suspension of Panama's Olympic committee in a dispute over leadership of the body.

At its last meeting in October in Acapulco, Mexico, the IOC said Panama would be suspended if a solution was not found by this week.

But IOC officials said today that progress has been made since then. Mario Vazquez Rana, the Mexican who heads the association of national Olympic committees, will continue to broker the talks in hopes of reaching a deal within 90 days.

Two different factions have been battling for control of Panama's Olympic Commission, leading Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli to demand the resignation of the committee members.

Also yesterday, the IOC pressed India to settle a dispute over age and tenure limits for leaders of national sports federations but stopped short of any sanctions.

The IOC also dealt with the situation caused by the recent breakup of the Netherlands Antilles, which was colonised by the Dutch in the 17th century.

With the national Olympic committee dissolved, the IOC approved a transition period that will allow athletes from the area to compete at the London Games, either under the Olympic flag or Dutch flag.

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