The Union sports ministry has asked the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to suspend its activities, including its general body meeting scheduled for Sunday in Ayodhya, till an oversight committee takes charge of the body.
This came a day after the government set up the oversight panel to examine allegations of sexual abuse and financial irregularities against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh that were brought to light by prominent sportspersons recently.
This includes the suspension of the ongoing ranking competition, and the return of entry fees taken from the participants for any ongoing activities. The announcement follows a decision by the Government to appoint an Oversight Committee which will take over the day-to-day activities of the WFI.
In addition, the Assistant Secretary, WFI, Vinod Tomar, has also been suspended with immediate effect. The Oversight Committee will help to ensure that all the complaints made against the Executive Committee of the Federation are enquired into and the Federation is managed in an efficient and transparent manner in the best interests of the sportspersons.
"The Ministry of Sports has communicated to the Wrestling Federation of India on Saturday that in view of the Government's decision to appoint an Oversight Committee to investigate the various allegations raised by athletes against the Federation, WFI will suspend all ongoing activities with immediate effect, unless the Oversight Committee is formally appointed and takes over the day to day functioning of WFI," said the press statement
"In view of the direction to suspend all activities immediately, the Sports Ministry has asked WFI to also cancel the ongoing Ranking Tournament in Gonda, UP. The Ministry has directed WFI to return the entry fees charged to participants for the ongoing event," the statement further added.
Following the notice, the Wrestling Federation of India called off the Annual General Meeting they were supposed to hold, starting 10am on Sunday. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had said he would speak to the media about the allegations of the wrestlers after the AGM, however, reports claim he will now be communicating with the press only after the findings of the Oversight Committee are submitted, over the next month.
Noted wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and a number of other grapplers on 18 January staged a protest against the Wrestling Federation of the India (WFI). The 28-year-old Phogat alleged that Brij Bhushan Sharan had been harassing female wrestlers. The protesting wrestlers have also accused the WFI of arbitrariness, mismanagement, misgovernance and bias in selection as harassment of wrestlers by its coaches and president.