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United World Wrestling lifts suspension on WFI

United World Wrestling (UWW), wrestling’s global governing body, on Tuesday lifted the suspension from the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) with immediate effect. WFI had remained under UWW’s suspension since August 23 last year for failing to hold the elections. WFI elections were eventually held on December 21 when Sanjay Singh-led panel won 13 of the 15 contested positions.

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) logo

“The UWW Disciplinary Chamber decided that it had sufficient grounds to impose the provisional suspension on the body as the situation in the federation prevailed for at least six months,” UWW’s statement read.

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“The UWW Bureau met on February 9 to review the suspension among other topics and considering all the elements and information, it decided to lift the suspension.”

UWW, however, has asked WFI to re-convene the elections to its Athletes Commission before July 1.

“The candidates for this commission shall be active athletes or retired for no longer than four years. The voters shall be exclusively athletes. These elections shall take place during trials or any senior national championships where this operation can take place,” UWW said.

“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.”

WFI currently remains suspended by the sports ministry and the sport is being run by a three-member ad hoc committee comprising of Wushu Association of India president Bhupender Singh Bajwa, former hockey Olympian MM Somaya, and former international shuttler Manjusha Kanwar.

The ad hoc body conducted senior national championships earlier this month (Feb 2-5) — after a gap of one year — in Jaipur while the Sanjay Singh-led body held their own Nationals last month (Jan 29-31). Last week, the ad hoc committee announced the schedule for selection trials for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers and Asian Championships.

“We will wait for the directions from IOA and sports ministry,” Bajwa said.

Sanjay Singh, meanwhile, said he will announce a fresh schedule for Olympic qualifiers soon. “It is a positive step for Indian wrestling. We will soon announce the schedule for selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers,” he said.

“All those wrestlers who participated in the Jaipur Nationals will also be given a chance to compete in all trials. There will be no bias against any wrestler,” Singh added.

WFI remains under suspension by the sports ministry since December 24 over “blatant disregard for the established legal and procedural norms, violating both the WFI’s constitutional provisions and the National Sports Development Code.”

“We have always maintained that we are ready to talk to the government. I hope this will also pave the way for a dialogue with the sports ministry,” Singh added.

The decision means Indian wrestlers will be able to compete under the country’s flag at the next UWW event. Under the suspension, the Indian wrestlers had to compete under a UWW flag.

So far, only Antim Panghal (53kg) has secured a quota for this year’s Paris Olympics. As many as 17 Olympic spots are up for grabs for Indian wrestlers at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers (19-21 April) and World Olympic Qualifiers (9-12 May).

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