New Delhi: Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Thursday said that pressure was created on some of the wrestlers to sit for protest against him over allegations of sexual harrasment. Many wrestlers including Olypmic and Commonwealth Games medalists staged a sit-in protest on Wednesday alleging sexual harrasment by officials and coaches of the WFI.
“97% of players are with the WFI. I’m hurt by the sexual harassment allegations. No player can bring those charges against me or chief coach. Pressure was created on some wrestlers to sit on dharna,” Singh said while speaking to news agency ANI.
Delhi | 97% of players are with the WFI. I’m hurt by the sexual harassment allegations. No player can bring those charges against me or chief coach. Pressure was created on some wrestlers to sit on dharna: BBS Singh, WFI President, on sexual harassment allegations against him pic.twitter.com/B5YuoIc2ea
— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2023
He said that wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malikkh met him a week ago and they had no problem back then. “Maybe, they didn’t like some of the decisions I took as President but I only took those decisions in the interest of the sport,” he added.
The WFI President said that Vinesh Phogat had demanded to change the chief coach adding that “a coach can not be kept on recommendation of one player.” “We’ve to think about players from other states also.They should’ve come with names of coaches involved in sexual harassment earlier,” he said.
He also alleged that Babita Phogat and other wrestlers wanted to their selected candidate to be chosen for national tournaments after wrestling body in Haryana was changed and an elected body came up. “A few days ago, wrestling body in Haryana was changed & an elected body came up. Some people formed a local federation under Sports minister and wrestler Babita Phogat and they wanted their selected candidates to be chosen for national tournaments. Sports ministry rejected it,” he said.
Olympians and star wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia on Wednesday made claims of harrasment against officials and coaches of WFI and lead a sit-in protest against the “dictatorship” of the national federation President at Jantar Mantar.
Following the development, The Union Sports Ministry sought an explanation from the Wrestling Federation of India over the allegations, said the Sports Authority of India, reported ANI. The Ministry has directed WFI to furnish a reply within next 72 hours into the allegation against it by the wrestlers, it added.