IOA forms 3-member ad hoc committee to run affairs of suspended WFI

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The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Wednesday constituted a three-member ad hoc committee to run the day-to-day affairs of the WFI after the sports ministry suspended the wrestling national body for not following the provisions of its own constitution while taking decisions.

Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh during a protest(HT_PRINT)
Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh during a protest(HT_PRINT)

Wushu Association of India president Bhupinder Singh Bajwa will be the chairman of the panel with hockey Olympian M M Somaya and former international shuttler Manjusha Kanwar being the other two members.

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The Sports Ministry on Sunday suspended the WFI, three days after it elected new office bearers with Brij Bhushan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh as president, and also asked IOA to constitute an ad-hoc panel to manage the affairs of the sports body.

The IOA said in a release that the newly-elected president and officials of WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and also flouted principles of good governance.

“The IOA has recently become aware that the recently appointed President and officials of WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and against the principles of good governance espoused by IOC and further without following due process overturned the rulings of the IOA- appointed Ad hoc Committee,” IOA president PT Usha said in the release.

“This not only highlights a governance gap within the federation but also signifies a noticeable departure from established norms.

“Since the IOA considers adherence to governance norms as vital for ensuring fair play, transparency and accountability and to safeguard the interests of sportspersons as espoused by IOC and to ensure continuity, it has been decided to appoint an Ad hoc committee….”

The ad hoc committee was tasked to oversee and supervise WFI’s operations, which include athlete selection, submitting entries for athletes to participate in international events, organizing sports activities, handling bank accounts, managing the website, and other related responsibilities.

“This is an Olympic year, we must start preparing from now. We will conduct all senior and junior championships soon, along with camps, to maximize our chances of winning medals in the (Paris) Olympics,” Bajwa told PTI.

“Our goal is to achieve the maximum number of medals in the Olympics for our country, as this is one of the most popular games in India and has significant potential.”

Bajwa was also one of the members of the earlier ad hoc committee formed by the IOA in April to run the affairs of WFI and to conduct its elections. After repeated delays due to court cases, elections were finally held on December 21 with Brij Bhushan’s close aide Sanjay winning the presidential poll.

Hours after getting elected as WFI President on Thursday, Sanjay had announced that age group national championships will be held from December 28 in Gonda in UP, which is BJP MP Brij Bhushan’s constituency.

The government, while suspending the WFI, cited its “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.

The ministry felt the new WFI body was working under the complete control of its former office-bearers, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.

Sanjay’s election as WFI chief led to Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik announcing her retirement from wrestling as she said she would not continue the sport with a close aide of Brij Bhushan at the helm of the national federation. Tokyo Olympics bronze winner Bajrang Punia also returned his Padma Shri to the government.

World Championships medallist Vinesh Phogat followed suit as she returned her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award.

The trio had led a five-month-long protest of wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, accusing Brij Bhushan of sexually exploiting several women grapplers.

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