The United World Wrestling (UWW) has suspended the membership of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) indefinitely due to its failure in conducting the necessary elections.
The WFI has been embroiled in several controversies which have caused its elections to be postponed. India’s governing body for wrestling was supposed to hold its elections in June 2023, however, the elections had to be repeatedly postponed in light of the protests led by Indian wrestlers and legal petitions from various state units.
The world wrestling governing body, UWW has suspended the WFI for not conducting its elections on time, the impact of which will be that Indian grapplers will not be allowed to compete at the upcoming World Championships under the Indian flag.
Indian wrestlers will have to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at the Olympic-qualifying World Championships set to begin from September 16 as the ad-hoc panel led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa did not honour the 45-day deadline given by the UWW to conduct elections.
The elections to fill up 15 positions of the WFI’s governing body were scheduled to be held on August 12. Four candidates including Sanjay Singh, a close aide of outgoing president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from Uttar Pradesh, filed nominations for the post of president at the Olympic Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday.
Darshal Lal from Chandigarh wrestling body was nominated for the position of general secretary, while SP Deswal of Uttarakhand was nominated for the position of treasurer from the camp of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The WFI elections were first suspended in January and then again in May following top Indian wrestlers’ protest against its functioning and allegations of sexual harassment of female wrestlers at the hands of president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
At present, the day-to-day functioning of WFI are being managed by the Indian Olympic Association-constituted ad-hoc committee led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa.
The United World Wrestling, the apex governing body of the sport had warned WFI of suspension if the elections were delayed.
Maharashtra and Tripura will not have any representatives at the elections as the Returning Officer deemed claims of both factions from the former “ineligible”, while Tripura has remained disaffiliated since 2016.