IOA forms three-member ad-hoc panel to run WFI

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The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Wednesday announced a three-member ad-hoc committee, headed by its Executive Committee member Bhupinder Singh Bajwa, to run the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) following the newly-elected federation’s suspension.

Two days ago, the Union Sports Ministry had asked the WFI to suspend its activities following some arbitrary decisions taken by its newly-elected president and requested the IOA to form a panel to run the WFI.

The IOA has named a three-member panel, also comprising Olympic gold medallist hockey player M.M. Somaya and former National champion shuttler Manjusha Kanwar, and tasked it “with overseeing and supervising WFI’s operations, which include athlete selection, submitting entries for athletes to participate in international events, organising sports activities, handling bank accounts, managing the website, related responsibilities.”

Bajwa was a key member of the previous ad-hoc committee that ran the WFI after the Ministry had asked former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to step aside as some prominent wrestlers brought different allegations, including sexual harassment, against the latter.

Even as Sanjay Singh, a close associate of the Brij Bhushan, was elected the new president of the WFI, three top wrestlers – Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat – expressed their dissatisfaction. While Sakshi announced her retirement, Bajrang and Vinesh returned the awards conferred by the Government.

Against mounting pressure and the Ministry highlighting that the newly-elected body appeared to be in complete control of the former office-bearers in complete disregard to the Sports Code, Brij Bhushan announced his ‘retirement’ from the wrestling administration.

The IOA’s expressed similar concerns while announcing a new ad-hoc panel.

“The IOA has become aware that the recently appointed president and officials of the WFI have made arbitrary decisions in violation of their own constitutional provisions and against the principles of good governance espoused by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and without following due process overturned the rulings of the appointed ad-hoc committee.

“This not only highlights a governance gap within the federation but also signifies a noticeable departure from established norms,” said an IOA order, stressing “adherence to governance norms as vital for ensuring fair play, transparency and accountability and to safeguard the interests of the sportspersons.”

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