25 Jan 2011

India sacks Commonwealth Games pair

6:00 am on 25 January 2011

India's sports ministry has removed the top two organisers of last year's tainted Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to enable an "unhindered" police probe into alleged corruption.

The Ministry says Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Games organising committee, and Lalit Bhanot, its secretary-general, have been sacked in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations.

Kalmadi and Bhanot but both insist they are innocent and claim all major decisions were taken by the executive board of the organising committee.

The Commonwealth Games, marred by venue delays and chaotic organisation, were also hit by claims of massive financial irregularities as the budget ballooned three times to an estimated 8 billion dollars.

The national anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission, received complaints alleging up to 2.3 billion dollars of Games money was misappropriated.

Firms in Australia, Britain, France and Germany were among those owed money, while national Commonwealth Games associations complained of missing refunds and travel subsidies.