Global governing body lifts Wrestling Federation of India suspension

The WFI has been trying to recover from a sexual harassment scandal

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh addresses a press conference in Gonda. (ANI Photo)

Pramod Thomas

UNITED WORLD WRESTLING (UWW) has lifted the suspension on the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday (13), nearly five months after placing it under provisional suspension for its failure to hold an election within a reasonable time frame.

The WFI has been trying to recover from a sexual harassment scandal, with a setback coming in December last year when the sports ministry suspended the body and sacked a new slate of officers it elected.

The UWW had asked for a fresh election after the WFI’s then-president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a lawmaker from prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, was charged with sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.

UWW had later said WFI may need to safeguard women wrestlers to get its suspension lifted.

The UWW said its bureau met on last Friday (9) and decided to lift the suspension under certain conditions, including the assurance of fair treatment.

“The WFI has to re-convene the elections of its Athletes’ Commission. The candidates for this commission shall be active athletes or retired for no longer than four years. The voters shall be exclusively athletes,” UWW said in a statement.

“These elections shall take place during trials or any senior national championships where this operation can take place, but no later than July 1, 2024.

“The WFI has to immediately provide UWW with written guarantees that all wrestlers will be considered for participation without any discrimination in all WFI events, in particular trials for the Olympic Games and any other major national and international events.

“This non-discrimination includes the three athletes who protested against alleged wrongdoings by the former President.”

The decision comes as a major boost ahead of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, with Indian wrestlers now able to compete under the country’s flag at the next UWW event.