Brij Bhushan Opines Trials Exemption To Vinesh And Bajrang Is Detrimental To India’s Wrestling

On July 18, the duo was granted direct tickets by the Indian Olympic Association to the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Young wrestlers Antim Panghal and Sujeet Kalkal moved to Delhi High Court to seek justice.

Under fire Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhusan Sharan Singh, who is facing numerous grave sexual harassment charges by women wrestlers, feels the exemption of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat from the Asian Games trials is a blot on India’s wrestling repute. 

"I am pretty anguished since the ad-hoc panel took this decision. It will hurt the sport of wrestling in this country. A lot of people have worked hard to lift this sport. The athletes, their parents, the fans of the sport, all have worked hard," Singh told in an interview with the PTI.
On July 18, the duo was granted direct tickets by the Indian Olympic Association to the continental event in Hangzhou.

The decision didn’t bode well for young wrestlers like Antim Panghal and Sujeet Kalkal as they moved to Delhi High Court to seek justice. 

"Today, wrestling is one sport where an Olympic medal is considered guaranteed. And the decision that these wrestlers will go to a competition like Asian Games, is an unfortunate one," he added.

Brij Bhushan, who’s currently out on an interim bail is denied by WFI to contest the upcoming elections because of the Sports Code guidelines. He opines the wrestlers' protest was politically fuelled. 

"When all this (protest) began (in January) I used to think why is it all happening? I had recited a poem back then (on social media)," he recollected the poem again and said that his support for the junior wrestlers led to his downfall. 

"I am remembering this poem again today because things are becoming crystal clear," he added. 

However, under his regime, both Vinesh and Bajrang were given direct entries to the 2018 Asian Games and even during the CWG 2022 trials, the same grapplers were granted permission to compete in the semi-finals. When countered with this fact, outspoken Singh said that it was a mistake on his part to exempt them from trials. 

"We did not send these wrestlers (to Commonwealth Games) directly, though we gave them direct semifinal berths. We realised later that perhaps it is not right and that's exactly why we discussed this issue at our Executive Committee, took the advice of the coaches, studied the rules from other nations and passed the new rules in General Body Meeting that such exemptions will be not be given to any wrestler in any situation."

"I myself did not make this rule, unilaterally. It was widely discussed and then a decision was taken.”

The WFI passed the resolution on August 25 at its General Body Meeting in Rohtak, last year. 

Brij Bhusan chose not to comment on the appointment of coaches Ashok Garg and Gian Singh as technical experts on the IOA ad-hoc panel. 

"Now I would request you to let this go. How well these coaches are well-versed with modern-day wrestling is another topic. I don't talk to the media now but some issues were rankling me, so I spoke today (on exemption given to wrestlers)," the BJP member concluded.