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UWW urges IOA & WFI to co-operate, awaits IOA confirmation ratifying elections

Updated on: 05 January,2024 06:23 PM IST  |  New Delhi
mid-day online correspondent |

The three top wrestlers are demanding the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing women grapplers

UWW urges IOA & WFI to co-operate, awaits IOA confirmation ratifying elections

Junior wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar (L), Sanjay Singh (R) / Pic: ANI

United World Wrestling chief Nenad Lalovic wants all stake-holders, including the WFI and IOA, to co-operate so that Indian grapplers are not inconvenienced by uncertainty prevailing in the sport and can enter international competitions in the crucial Olympic year.

Lalovic, in his letter to the IOA ad-hoc panel in-charge of wrestling, said UWW is willing to give recognition to the new Wrestling Federation of India if the Indian Olympic Association gives a "formal confirmation".

Several Olympic qualifying events are lined up this year with woman grappler Antim Panghal being the only one from India to have secured a Paris 2024 berth, while the others have disappointed because of lack of training camps and competitions for more than a year due to protests by Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat.

The three top wrestlers are demanding the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing women grapplers.

"The WFI and the IOA are requested to cooperate so that the athletes are not prejudiced and are duly entered in international UWW events under the same conditions as detailed in our suspension letter of August 23, 2023. We thank you for your attention and collaboration for the sake of all wrestlers in India," said the UWW president in his letter.

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UWW also said it was "well-informed" about the newly-elected WFI under Sanjay Singh and was waiting for IOA to confirm the results of the elections.

"UWW has been well-informed of the results of the Wrestling Federation of India's elections held on December 21, 2023 under the supervision of a former judge of the Delhi High Court.

"UWW requires a formal written confirmation by the respective National Olympic Committee (Indian Olympic Association), whereby it recognises and confirms the results of the elections and the names of all new office bearers.

"This letter serves as a formal request of such written confirmation by the Indian Olympic Association," he added.

The president also said UWW will require a "robust plan" from the stake-holders guaranteeing a "safe environment" where grapplers can report abuse and harassment, and a clear hearing process is in place.

"Considering all the circumstances and allegations that led to this situation (suspension of WFI by UWW), UWW additionally requires that a detailed and robust plan is submitted for approval to ensure that all athletes can practice their sport in a safe environment.

"This includes the establishment of instances (safeguarding officer or committee) within the WFI to address concerns of abuse and harassment, in compliance with the Indian laws and policies on safe sport, the training of coaches and athlete support personnel on athletes' safeguarding, clear and independent channels for athletes to report on any instance of abuse and harassment, clear adjudication and hearing processes with applicable sanctions and the absence of any restriction to refer cases to law enforcement authorities."

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Lalovic also asked the WFI to set up an athletes' commission with 50 percent women for quick redressal of disciplinary issues.

"The WFI shall also set up, or inform UWW of the existence of any Athletes' Commission within its structure. This commission shall be composed equally by men and women athletes (active or retired for no longer than four years) and be elected solely by active athletes.

"As these crucial points were the grounds for the UWW Bureau, respectively the UWW Disciplinary Chamber to impose a suspension on the WFI, the UWW will be in a position to decide on the lifting of the suspension upon reception of these elements," Lalovic, who is also an IOC Executive Board Member, added. 

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