NEW DELHI: Former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Singh placed blame on prominent wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik for the suspension of the federation. This suspension comes as a severe blow ahead of major sporting events like the Asian Games, World Wrestling Championships, and the highly anticipated 2024 Paris Olympics.
United World Wrestling (UWW) on Thursday made the decision to suspend the WFI with immediate effect due to a delay in conducting essential elections.
Addressing the issue, Brij Bhushan Singh expressed his efforts to facilitate timely elections and shed light on the challenges encountered in the process.”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 for elections to 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.

Phogat

Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik. (TOI Photo)
The former president highlighted a contentious matter related to the elections, where players expressed concerns about his family’s involvement in the voting process. He stated that he acquiesced to their request and proposed alternative voters, yet the elections still faced impediments.

Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt also expressed his concern over the suspension, emphasising the potential repercussions for Indian wrestlers.
“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.
The suspension stemmed from WFI’s inability to hold elections within the stipulated 45-day period. Originally scheduled for August 12, the WFI elections were delayed due to legal complications and controversies surrounding the federation. A stay order issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court postponed the elections to August 28 following a petition by the Haryana Wrestling Association.
The upheaval within the WFI has cast a shadow over the wrestling community in India, leading to an ad hoc committee overseeing the federation’s affairs under the Indian Olympic Association. The uncertainty surrounding the federation’s leadership has raised concerns about the preparedness of Indian wrestlers for upcoming international competitions.
Amid allegations of sexual harassment against the former WFI chief, the UWW had previously issued a warning in May, stating that a failure to hold elections within the specified timeframe could result in the federation’s suspension.
(With inputs from ANI)


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