Wrestlers “should not be used as pawns” in the politics of the sports federation, the Delhi High Court commented on Monday while hearing arguments in the case filed by champion wrestler Sushil Kumar seeking trials for the upcoming Rio Olympics.
“People have reduced this to politics. These are sportspersons. They are international athletes. They don’t need this. They need to be in training,” observed Justice Manmohan. The comment was made while hearing arguments on behalf of World Championships bronze medal winner Narsingh Yadav, who has opposed Sushil’s plea.
Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for Narsingh, told the court that Sushil had not participated in any wrestling competition after July 2014, and had not given any justification for his absence. “He has submitted medical certificates only for July 2015,” said Gupta, who argued that Sushil could have participated in the National Championships in December or the Asian Championships in January to indicate his fitness level. The lawyer also pointed out that Sushil’s letter for leave of absence did not mention medical reasons but cited “urgent unavoidable circumstances” for his absence.
Sushil, however, said the WFI had never objected to his medical certificate. Senior advocate Amit Sibal, representing Sushil, told the court that the WFI was not following the procedure under the Olympics rules, which says the berth secured in an event is for a country and not for a particular athlete.
“Iran, Russia, USA, Canada, all have separate trials after the quota is secured,” said Sibal, who also argued that the WFI “did not have a procedure or policy in place” regarding medical certificates.
With the wrestling team scheduled to go to Poland next week for training, Narsingh’s lawyers told the court the “list of names” for Rio had already been finalised by the WFI and sent to the Indian Olympic Association. Sushil’s counsel argued those being sent to Poland are the ones who had secured berths for their events, as well as “standby replacement wrestlers”. Sushil’s name, though, does not figure in that list. The court will now hear further arguments on Wednesday.