Govt suspends newly formed Wrestling Federation of India

The Union sports ministry on Sunday suspended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for blatant disregard for the established legal and procedural norms while noting that the newly-elected body appeared to be in complete control of former office-bearers.

After suspending the WFI, the ministry requested the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to constitute an ad-hoc committee to manage and control the affairs of the wrestling federation’s governing body.

The WFI elections were held on December 21 with former president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s loyalist, Sanjay Singh, and his panel winning the polls by big margins. After his election, Sanjay Singh met BJP MP Brij Bhushan at the latter’s residence which is also the office of the sports body. Sanjay Singh’s appointment was opposed by wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia. While Malik announced her retirement in protest, Punia returned his Padma Shri award.

The sports ministry further said that the newly-elected body made a “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 trials were announced to be held in Gonda, the backyard of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

“The business of the Federation 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 present the court is hearing the matter,” the ministry said citing the reasons for the suspension.