Sports Ministry warns of legal action against suspended WFI president


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The Sports Ministry on Tuesday warned of legal action against suspended Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Sanjay Singh for making “absolutely baseless and mischievous” claims with regard to government recognition to WFI and reiterated that any tournament organised by the body shall be treated as “unsanctioned”.

Last Saturday, Sanjay Singh claimed that around 700 grapplers would participate in the Senior National Championship in Pune from January 29-31, a statement that did not go down well with the ministry, which had suspended the national federation just three days after the formation of its new body for violating its own constitution.

“…Certain claims are being made by you pertaining to the recognition of the currently under-suspension Executive Committee of the WFI and about the competitions being held by you at Pune are being made, which are again absolutely baseless and mischievous,” the ministry said in the letter addressed to Sanjay Singh.

“The Ministry has already vide its letter dated 7.1.2024, addressed to you and copies of which were endorsed to affiliate units of WFI and State Governments/Union Territories, made this entire issue categorically clear.

“It is once again informed that any championships or competitions organized by the suspended Executive Committee members of WFI, will be treated as unsanctioned and unrecognized competitions,” the ministry added in the letter.

The national body was suspended by the Sports Ministry on December 24, just three days after it held its election for violating its own constitution after it announced to host the 2023 age group nationals in Gonda, UP in the last week of December.

The Sports Ministry had since maintained that the Nationals organised by WFI will not be recognised.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has since set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the day-to-day affairs of WFI on the directive of Sports Ministry.

“In light of the above, you are hereby strongly advised to desist from making any further unsubstantiated claims regarding the status of the Wrestling Federation of India.

“Please be advised that failure to adhere to this caution may compel the Ministry to consider further legal action, including but not limited to legal proceedings for spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated claims and any other relevant charges as per the laws of the country,” the ministry said.

The ministry letter further stated that Sanjay Singh’s remarks are “causing confusion and anxiety among the athletes and others concerned with wrestling”.

The ad-hoc body, led by Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, had announced a separate senior national championships to be held in Jaipur from February 2-5.

The Sports Ministry suspended the WFI after its newly elected body made a “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” to prepare.

The WFI elections were held on December 21 with Sanjay Singh, a loyalist of former president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and his panel winning the polls by big margins.

Brij Bhushan was accused of sexual harassment by star wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik.

The move to suspend the WFI came after Sakshi announced her retirement from wrestling at a press briefing.

Later, protesting the election of Sanjay Singh as the new WFI chief, Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri.

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