New Delhi: In a huge embarrassment, India's spearhead Yogeshwar Dutt was forced to pull out of the Wrestling World Championships after being found unfit at the eleventh hour, leaving the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) red-faced.

Yogeshwar Dutt. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Yogeshwar Dutt. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Yogeshwar, who travelled all the way to Las Vegas with the Indian contingent following speculations around his fitness, has been advised to withdraw from the men's 65kg freestyle category after doctors at the venue did not find him 100 per cent fit. Asked why Yogeshwar was sent to the USA when he was not 100 per cent fit, a top WFI official said that the 32-year-old had assured the federation that he was in good shape and would
be able to participate in the tournament.

"Before leaving for the USA, he had recovered from his knee injury and was more than 90 per cent fit. He was expected to be fully fit before his bout, which is scheduled on September 10. But since there is now a chance of that he might cause further damage to his knee if he takes part, it has been decided to pull him out of the tournament," the official told PTI.

The WFI now doesn't wish to risk aggravating his injury. "He does not have a major injury, just a niggling one but as a precaution, he has been advised against participating in the World Championship. He should not aggravate his injury. And since there are four more qualification tournaments left before the Olympics, it is not wise to take risk," said the official.

The London Olympic bronze medallist had suffered a knee injury some time back but he had claimed that he got the required treatment and was fully fit to take part in the World Championship. He has been asked to take complete rest and also undergo another knee operation.  The official also said that the WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh wanted a replacement in 65kg category but since there was not enough time, the USA embassy did not give any appointment date for a visa interview to another wrestler.

"In place of Yogeshwar, Amit Dhankar could have represented India in 65kg category but the embassy has not given any appointment date for visa interview to the wrestler as there is not enough time now," said the official. It is learnt that Dhankar had earlier complained about Yogeshwar being not fully fit. Meanwhile, WFI secretary general Raj Singh said it was not a big concern as in the last Olympics, the Indian wrestlers had qualified at the later events and not at the World Championship.

"Yogeshwar should focus on his recovery first. He will get many more tournaments to qualify for Olympics. In last few Olympics also, our wrestlers did not book berths in the first qualification event itself but at later events. So we have enough time to qualify," said Raj Singh.  However, India's chief freestyle coach Kuldeep Malik is still optimistic about getting Yogeshwar fit before his bout on Thursday.

"We are still trying to get Yogeshwar fully fit by 10th before his bout. And reports that he has been advised against fighting is not true," Malik told PTI. "So far even the weights are not done. Even the medical test will also be conducted tomorrow or day after and only after that we will get a clearer picture."