New Delhi: The Sports Ministry has asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form a temporary panel to run the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), whose newly elected management has been suspended amid a row with wrestlers.
In a letter to the IOA chief, the Sports Ministry said the temporary committee can manage and control the affairs of the WFI including selection of athletes.
“… Taking note of the compelling current situation arising out of the influence and control of the WFI’s former office bearers, serious concerns have arisen about the governance and integrity of the WFI,” said the letter signed by Tarun Pareek, undersecretary to the Centre.
“This requires for immediate and stringent corrective measures to uphold the principles of good governance in sports organisations, and thus, now it becomes incumbent on the part of the IOA to make suitable arrangements for the interim period for managing the affairs of WFI, so that sportspersons of wrestling discipline do not suffer in any manner and the principle of good governance is the sports body do not get jeopardised,” the Sports Ministry said in the letter.
Another round of election to the WFI cannot be ruled out since the latest administration led by the newly elected chief Sanjay Singh, a loyalist of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, has been suspended by the Centre.
The temporary panel formed by the IOA will look after the day-to-day affairs of the WFI, including making entries for participation of sportspersons in international events, and holding sporting events.
Ace wrestler Sakshee Malikkh had raised concerns yesterday regarding the upcoming junior national competitions, following with the Centre ordered the newly-elected WFI panel to stop all activities till further orders. The Centre also noted the “hasty” announcement of the junior national contests.
The Sports Ministry in a statement noted the newly elected body “appears to be (in) complete control of former office bearers in complete disregard to the Sports Code”.
The business of WFI, the ministry said, is being run from the premises controlled by former office bearers. “Which is also alleged premises wherein sexual harassment of the players have been alleged and (at) present the court in hearing the matter,” it added.
Brij Bhushan, a six-time BJP MP, had to step aside after the country’s top wrestlers, including Ms Malikkh, accused him of sexually harassing women wrestlers.
The top wrestlers, also including Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, hit the streets in January to seek action against the BJP MP.
They had called off the agitation following assurances from the government. A probe was also launched against Brij Bhushan. The recent WFI election saw Sanjay Singh post a thumping victory against Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anita Sheoran, who was backed by the protesting wrestlers.
Despite assurances that close aides and relatives of Brij Bhushan will not be allowed to contest the polls, the nomination of Sanjay Singh was cleared.