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Updated December 27th, 2023 at 16:53 IST

IOA forms 3-member ad hoc wrestling committee after suspension of WPI

Indian Olympics Association formed an ad hoc committee after Wrestling Federation of India.

Radhika Dhawad
Vinesh Phogat
Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik at the protest. | Image:Representational image/PTI
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Indian Olympics Association (IOA), on Wednesday, formed an ad hoc committee after Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was recently suspended amid protest over former chief and MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's alleged sexual misconduct. 

The association, upon the directive of the Ministry of Sports, appointed Bhupinder Singh Bajwa as the President of the committee Chairman with MM Sommaiya and Manjusha Kanwar as the members of the committee to run the affairs of the body. 

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Indian Olympic Association, in its letter dated December 27, stated, "The ad hoc committee is tasked with overseeing and supervising WFI's operations, which includes athlete selection, submitting entries for athletes to participate in international events, organising sports activities, handling bank accounts,managing the websites and other related activities. 

   

Letter by IOA

A day after wrestler Sakshi Malik expressed her concerns about the female wrestlers who will be participating in the wrestling events later this month, the newly-elected Wrestling federation of India was on Sunday, 24 December. 

Sanjay Singh, on December 21, was elected as the President of the WFI after the panel led by him won 13 out of the 15 posts. However, ace wrestlers including Sakshi Malik, who had accused Brijbhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing female athletes, had alleged foul play in the election process. 

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Responding to the allegations, Sanjay Singh had said, “Just because I am close to the MP (Brij Bhushan), it does not mean I am a dummy candidate”. 

The Sports Ministry on Sunday suspended the WFI, three days after it elected new office bearers with Brij Bhushan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh as president, and also asked IOA to constitute an ad-hoc panel to manage the affairs of the sports body.

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The IOA said in a release that the newly-elected president and officials of WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and also flouted principles of good governance.

"The IOA has recently become aware that the recently appointed President and officials of WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and against the principles of good governance espoused by IOC and further without following due process overturned the rulings of the IOA- appointed Ad hoc Committee," IOA president PT Usha said in the release.

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"This not only highlights a governance gap within the federation but also signifies a noticeable departure from established norms.

"Since the IOA considers adherence to governance norms as vital for ensuring fair play, transparency and accountability and to safeguard the interests of sportspersons as espoused by IOC and to ensure continuity, it has been decided to appoint an Ad hoc committee...."

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"This is an Olympic year, we must start preparing from now. We will conduct all senior and junior championships soon, along with camps, to maximize our chances of winning medals in the (Paris) Olympics," Bajwa told PTI.

"Our goal is to achieve the maximum number of medals in the Olympics for our country, as this is one of the most popular games in India and has significant potential."

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Bajwa was also one of the members of the earlier ad hoc committee formed by the IOA in April to run the affairs of WFI and to conduct its elections. After repeated delays due to court cases, elections were finally held on December 21 with Brij Bhushan's close aide Sanjay winning the presidential poll.

Hours after getting elected as WFI President on Thursday, Sanjay Singh announced that age group national championships will be held from December 28 in Gonda in UP, which is BJP MP Brij Bhushan's constituency.

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The government, while suspending the WFI, cited its 'hasty announcement' of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals "without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers" for preparations.

The ministry felt the new WFI body was working under the complete control of its former office-bearers, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.

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Sanjay's election as WFI chief led to Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik announcing her retirement from wrestling as she said she would not continue the sport with a close aide of Brij Bhushan at the helm of the national federation. Tokyo Olympics bronze winner Bajrang Punia also returned his Padma Shri to the government.

World Championships medallist Vinesh Phogat followed suit as she returned her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award.

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The trio had led a five-month-long protest of wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, accusing Brij Bhushan of sexually exploiting several women grapplers. 

 

 

 

(with PTI inputs)

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Published December 27th, 2023 at 16:08 IST

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