New Delhi: United World Wrestling (UWW) has suspended the membership of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) indefinitely due to the federation's failure to conduct the required elections.
New Delhi: United World Wrestling (UWW) has suspended the membership of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) indefinitely due to the federation’s failure to conduct the required elections. The WFI has been embroiled in several controversies, due to which its elections have been largely postponed. The federation was to hold elections in June 2023.
However, the elections have been repeatedly postponed due to protests by Indian wrestlers and legal petitions from various state units. United World Wrestling has suspended the WFI for not holding elections in time, a development that will not allow Indian wrestlers to compete under the Indian flag in the upcoming World Championships.
Indian wrestlers will have to compete as neutral athletes in the Olympic-qualifying world championships starting on September 16 after the Bhupender Singh Bajwa-led ad-hoc panel did not respect the 45-day deadline for holding elections. The elections for 15 posts in the WFI’s governing body were to be held on August 12.
On Monday, four candidates from Uttar Pradesh, including Sanjay Singh, a close aide of outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, filed nominations for the post of president at the Olympic Bhawan in New Delhi. Chandigarh Wrestling Association’s Darshan Lal was nominated for the post of general secretary, while Uttarakhand’s SP Deswal was nominated from the Brij Bhushan camp for treasurer.
The WFI was first suspended in January and again in May after India’s top wrestlers protested its functioning and accused its then president Brij Bhushan of sexually harassing female wrestlers. The day-to-day affairs of the WFI are currently being managed by an ad-hoc committee constituted by the Indian Olympic Association headed by Bhupender Singh Bajwa.
Notably, United World Wrestling, the sport’s governing body at the highest level, had warned the WFI of suspension if the elections were delayed. Maharashtra and Tripura will have no representatives in the elections as the returning officer has disqualified the claims of both factions, while Tripura has remained unaffiliated since 2016.