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Are Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshi responsible for India's wrestling crisis?

Source: ANI
August 26, 2023 19:42 IST
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'Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshi are responsible...': Brij Bhushan Singh on WFI's suspension by United World Wrestling

Vinesh Phogat

IMAGE: Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Singh on Saturday blamed wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik for suspension of the federation ahead of big events like the Asian Games, World Wrestling Championships and 2024 Paris Olympics.

United World Wrestling on Thursday suspended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) with immediate effect in the wake of a delay in holding elections.

"WFI elections could not happen on time and that is why, the federation was suspended. I also tried that they take place on time, but due to some accusations made by players, the centre asked me to step aside from wrestling and I did. It tried four times that elections be conducted but every time, we faced an obstacle," said Brij Bhushan in a press conference at Gonda, UP.


"From UP for elections, me and my son were the voters. The players wanted that no one from our family should vote and I accepted that and sent other names. But still, elections did not happen. For the past eight months or so, all wrestling activity is on hold. No camp has been held for the Asian Games. World Championships, an Olympics qualifying event is also coming, but no camp has been held so far. If no solution is found, our players will not be able to represent our flag in Asian Games, World Championships and Olympics. For all this, three "dharnajeevi" wrestlers, Bajrang, Sakshi and Vinesh are responsible. They have made a joke out of our wrestling," he added.

Earlier, Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt termed the suspension of the WFI as “very distressing”, and said that the Indian wrestlers' will suffer because of it.

"When you talk about suspension of WFI, we have to note that the Asian Games and World Championships are around the corner. Even if our wrestlers win there, our country will suffer because the quota will go to some other nation. It will be a huge loss," he said on Thursday.

UWW took the decision as WFI “failed to conduct elections" in the specified duration.

The election of WFI was originally slated to be held on August 12. However, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the WFI elections till August 28.

The stay order came in the wake of a petition filed by the Haryana Wrestling Association (HWA) which challenged the move to allow the Haryana Amateur Wrestling Association to cast votes in the WFI polls.
The WFI's elections have been delayed due to controversies surrounding WFI.

Elections for the federation, which oversees wrestling in India, were initially planned for June this year. However, demonstrations by Indian wrestlers over sexual allegations against the then WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and legal lawsuits from several state units led to the postponement of polls.

An ad hoc committee set up by the Indian Olympic Association is running the affairs of WFI at present.

Amid the protest by wrestlers over their sexual harassment allegations, UWW had warned in May that if elections to the Wrestling Federation of India are not held within the specified duration of 45 days, it may suspend the federation.

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Source: ANI