WFI given the reins of Indian wrestling again; ad hoc committee disbanded.

Vinesh Phogat (Image: Vinesh Phogat Instagram)

The decision of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to disband the ad hoc committee appointed to look after wrestling matters in the country is a step in the right direction.

What happened at the selection trials at the NIS Patiala recently was a mess, as the committee had allowed Vinesh Phogat to compete in two weight categories – 50kg and 53kg. Clearly, the United World Wrestling (UWW) rules say that an athlete can compete in only one weight category. However, Vinesh had posted on social media that such rules are only for international competitions.
For its part, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), headed by Sanjay Singh, its president, has welcomed the decision of the IOA to disband the ad hoc committee. “We in the WFI can now focus on the wrestling affairs and see what needs to be done to win a medal at the Paris Olympics,” he said.

Till now, only one wrestler, Antim Panghal, has qualified for the Paris Olympics, in the 53kg category. She did not compete in the recent trials in Patiala due to a back injury.
It was the WFI which sent entries to Bishkek, Kyrygzstan, for the Asian Championship and the Olympic qualifiers, to be held next month. The WFI has forwarded the names of all the wrestlers who won the selection trials, men and women who competed in the trials in Sonepat and Patiala.

The WFI has also kept the UWW in the loop, as complaints have been received from a few wrestlers that allowing Vinesh to compete in two weight categories was unfair. RevSportz has learn that the UWW has referred the issue to its ethics committee. How soon they will act on complaints received from Indian wrestlers is not clear. As the watchdog of world wrestling, they will definitely have to take a look.
All eyes will now be on the WFI AGM and executive committee to be held on March 29. The selection policy for the Paris Olympics is not clear, really. Much has been left open to interpretation, which is wrong. New policy, old policy – all this has to be made clear to the wrestlers and public at large. If there are going to be selection trials before Paris, it needs to be notified properly and in timely fashion.

Whether Antim will have to take part in a final trial before the Paris Olympics is not clear. What is certain is that with the ad hoc committee disbanded by the IOA, all matters pertaining to wrestling will be handled by the WFI. They are also aware that each action of theirs will be watched very closely. Last but not least, the WFI will also have to put in place a “safeguarding committee/officer” to address all complaints from the wrestlers. In addition, the WFI also has to hold elections to the Athletes Commission. The UWW has made it clear that all wrestlers will be eligible to take part in that.

In many ways, the news that just one body will be in charge of the sport of wrestling is good. Despite the allegations that Sanjay Singh is a close aide of former WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, he was elected by a democratic process. The WFI has independent control but they will have to be very careful in every matter pertaining to the sport.

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