Wrestling Controversy: IOA Disbands Ad-Hoc Panel, WFI To Take Over

The Indian Olympic Association has directed the national wrestling federation to conduct the elections of the athletes commission in a time-bound manner, and appoint a safeguarding committee officer to address concerns of sexual harassment

Photo for representational purpose only. Photo: File

Saying that "there is no further need" for an ad-hoc committee to run wrestling after the revocation of the Wrestling Federation of India's (WFI) suspension, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Monday (March 18, 2024) dissolved the panel. With that, WFI will regain full administrative control. (More Wrestling News)

The ad-hoc committee collaborated with WFI to organize the selection trials for next month's Olympic qualifying tournament, and IOA said the successful conduct of the trials also guided its decision.

"The decision to dissolve the Adhoc Committee comes in light of the lifting of the ban on the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) by the United World Wrestling (UWW) and the successful completion of Selection Trials by the Adhoc Committee appointed by the IOA as per the directives of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi," the IOA order issued on March 18 stated.

The ad-hoc committee was formed in December 2023 after the Union sports ministry suspended WFI. However, the national federation got a shot in the arm when the suspension imposed on it by United World Wrestling was lifted in February 2024.

The ad-hoc panel, under the chairmanship of Bhupender Singh Bajwa, was formed after the newly-elected WFI led by Sanjay Singh allegedly violated its own rules.

Earlier in March 2024, the committee conducted the trials to select the teams for the Asian Championships and Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan to be held next month.

Protesting wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia both competed in the trials and the former made the cut for Olympic qualifiers in the 50kg category.

After the completion of the trials, the reins of the sport have been handed over to WFI.

Meanwhile, the IOA has ordered WFI to appoint a 'safeguarding committee officer' to address concerns of sexual harassment and other issues like adherence to rules.

" instructed by the UWW, it is imperative that the WFI appoint a Safeguarding Committee / Officer at the earliest to address the concerns of abuse and harassment and to ensure adherence to all rules, regulations, and guidelines set forth by the UWW and other relevant authorities," the IOA letter added.

"Furthermore, the WFI is also directed to conduct the elections of the Athletes Commission in a time-bound manner, in accordance with the established procedures and guidelines.

"This step is essential to promote athlete representation and participation in the decision-making processes of the WFI."

(With PTI inputs)