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Mary Kom-led IOA committee to probe wrestlers' claims

Last updated on: January 21, 2023 10:27 IST

IMAGE: The Indian Olympic Association formed a seven-member committee, headed by M C Mary Kom, to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Photograph: MC Mary Kom/Instagram

Taking cognisance of allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Indian Olympic Association on Friday formed a seven-member committee, headed by M C Mary Kom, to probe the charges.


The allegations have been made by some of the country's top wrestlers including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya.

The wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya, decided to end their protest after a breakthrough was achieved during a marathon second round of talks with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur late on Friday night. The government decided to form an oversight committee which will investigate the allegations of sexual harassment of women wresters by the WFI president.

Besides legendary boxer Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, the panel includes archer Dola Banerjee and Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) president and IOA treasurer Sahdev Yadav.

The committee also has two advocates -- Talish Ray and Shlok Chandra -- besides former shuttler and IOA joint secretary Alaknanda Ashok, who is its vice chairperson.

The decision was taken during the IOA's emergency Executive Council meeting, which was attended by Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar, along with IOA president PT Usha, vice president Gagan Narang and joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey. IOA Athletes Commission Member Shiva Keshvan and Olympic champion shooter Abhinav Bindra were the special invitees in the meeting.

IOA president Usha has assured that a thorough investigation will be carried out by the panel to ensure justice.

Most of the committee members are affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

"A detailed discussion was held on the letter received from the athletes and all the members including special invitees presented their views and suggestions," the IOA said in a statement.

"It was unanimously agreed that IOA must not get carried away by media trials. Further the EC unanimously decided that a Committee will be formed in accordance with the prevention of sexual harassment of women act of 2013 and must hear both sides and submit a report to the IOA president.

"Instructions have been given to the committee to meet at the earliest.

"The EC also appreciates the action and initiatives taken by the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs and awaits its report on the matter," the country's apex sports body added.

The panel includes two advocates, one male and one female, two IOA office bearers and two representatives of National Sports Federations (NSFs).

It will be interesting to see how the wrestlers react to the formation of committee which has a member in Yogeshwar who they had claimed was "sitting in lap of WFI".

This comes after the agitating wrestlers had earlier on Friday reached out to the IOA, demanding formation of an enquiry committee to probe the allegations against Singh, a day after threatening to lodge multiple FIRs against the WFI chief.

In a letter addressed to IOA president, the wrestlers alleged financial misappropriation (of funds) on part of the WFI and claimed that the coaches and sports science staff at the national camp are "absolutely incompetent".

Reacting to the latest development, Usha tweeted, "As IOA president, I've been discussing the current matter of wrestlers with the members and for all of us the welfare and well being of the athletes is the top most priority of IOA. We request athletes to come forward and voice their concerns with us.

"We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice. We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with such situations that may arise in the future, for swifter action."

The IOA panel will call all the concerned parties as part of its investigation.

Sahadev Yadav said, "We will call the wrestlers and listen to what they have to say and conduct a proper investigation."

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