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UWW wants IOA, WFI to work together

United World Wrestling (UWW), wrestling’s global governing body, has called for a raft of measures to be implemented by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to ensure athletes can function in a “safe environment”, adding that its decision to revoke WFI’s suspension will hinge on the latter’s compliance.

=Sanjay Singh after winning the WFI president Elections, in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, December 21, 2023. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times)(Hindustan Times)

The letter, signed by UWW president Nenad Lalovic and addressed to the ad hoc committee as well as to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha, also called for co-operation between the IOA and WFI “so that the athletes are not prejudiced and are duly entered in international UWW events.”

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WFI is currently under suspension from the sports ministry and the sport is being run by the three-member ad hoc panel headed by Wushu Association of India president Bhupender Singh Bajwa. Former hockey Olympic gold medallist (1980) MM Somaya and retired shuttler Manjusha Kanwar are the other members of the committee.

The letter also stated that UWW is still awaiting a ratification of WFI polls, held on December 21, from the IOA. “UWW requires a formal written confirmation by the respective National Olympic Committee (IOA) whereby it recognises and confirms the results of the elections and the names of all new office bearers,” it said.

“UWW additionally requires that a detailed and robust plan is submitted for approval to ensure that all athletes can practice their sport in a safe environment. This includes the establishment of instances (safeguarding officer or committee) within the WFI to address concerns of abuse and harassment, in compliance with the Indian laws and policies on safe sport, the training of coaches and athlete support personnel on athletes’ safeguarding, clear and independent channels for athletes to report on any instance of abuse and harassment, clear adjudication and hearing processes with applicable sanctions and the absence of any restriction to refer cases to law enforcement authorities.”

“The WFI shall also set up, or inform UWW of the existence of any Athletes’ Commission within its structure. This commission shall be composed equally of men and women athletes (active or retired for no longer than four years) and be elected solely by active athletes. As these crucial points were the grounds for the UWW Bureau, respectively the UWW Disciplinary Chamber to impose a suspension on the WFI, the UWW will be in a position to decide on the lifting of the suspension upon reception of these elements,” it said.

“In the meantime, the WFI and the IOA are kindly requested to cooperate so that the athletes are not prejudiced and are duly entered in international UWW events under the same conditions as detailed in our suspension letter of August 23, 2023.”

Wrestling activities in the country have remained suspended for a year, thanks to the protracted standoff between wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat and the WFI.

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