New Delhi: Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat got direct entry in Asian Games without trial. After this, the statement of outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has come to the fore. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, facing allegations of sexual harassment leveled by women wrestlers, on Wednesday said the decision was unfortunate. This will harm Indian wrestling. At the same time, junior wrestlers Avinash Panghal and Sujit Kalkal have also criticized the adhoc panel for giving this exemption. Demanding a fair trial in all categories, he has spoken of taking the matter to court.
Brij Bhushan told PTI in a special conversation- “I am very distressed after this decision was taken by the ad-hoc panel. This will harm the sport of wrestling in this country. Many people have worked hard to elevate this game. The athletes, their parents, the fans of the sport, everyone worked hard. Today wrestling is a sport in which an Olympic medal is considered a certainty. The decision that these wrestlers will go to a competition like the Asian Games is unfortunate.
Singh is currently out on interim bail. He is not eligible to contest the upcoming WFI elections due to the guidelines of the Sports Code. He further said- When this protest started in January, I used to think why all this is happening? I think the juniors have thus invited trouble for themselves. Panghal, 19, along with several other wrestlers, their families and elders took to the streets in Hisar to protest against the ad-hoc panel’s decision. Brij Bhushan said – Now things are becoming very clear.
When asked that even during his tenure as president, the WFI had exempted Vinesh, Bajrang and others from trials for the 2018 Asian Games and during the 2022 CWG trials the same wrestlers were given direct entry to the semi-finals, he admitted that it was a mistake. Singh said- “We did not send these wrestlers directly to the Commonwealth Games, though we directly gave them a place in the semi-finals. We realized later that maybe it is not right and that is why we discussed the issue in our executive committee, consulted the coaches.” Studied the rules of other countries and passed new rules in the general body meeting that under any circumstances no wrestler will be given such exemption further. I myself did not make this rule unilaterally. It was discussed extensively and then a decision was taken.
The resolution was passed by the WFI in its general body meeting at Rohtak on August 25 last year. When Singh was asked what he thought about the presence of Gyan Singh and Ashok Garg as technical experts in the IOA ad-hoc panel, he remained mum on the matter. He said- “Now I would request you to let it go. How well these coaches are aware of modern wrestling is another matter. I don’t talk to the media anymore, but some issues were troubling me, that’s why I spoke today.”