Updated: August 26, 2021 2:06:10 pm
Vinesh Phogat, who was temporarily suspended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for alleged indiscipline, will be eligible for this year’s World Championship after she was let off with a reprimand on Wednesday. Two other wrestlers, Sonam Malik and Divya Kakran, too have been cautioned and like Vinesh, they will be in the fray to compete in the World Championships as well.
However, in a letter addressed to the three wrestlers, WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said they will be ‘compelled’ to impose lifetime bans on the trio for any act of indiscipline in the future.
“Even though your written reply to the show-cause notice, which you had sent to the Wrestling Federation of India office, was not satisfactory, the Wrestling Federation of India wants to give you one more chance so that you can rectify your mistakes,” Sharan wrote in the letter, dated August 24, 2021. “Therefore, the Wrestling Federation of India’s disciplinary committee forgives you with a warning that if you repeat your mistakes, then the Wrestling Federation of India will be compelled to impose a lifetime ban on you.”
The decision was communicated to all wrestlers on Wednesday evening. WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said all three wrestlers will be eligible to take part in the selection trials next week for October’s World Championship, which will be held in Oslo, Norway. “We will be conducting selection trials on August 31 in New Delhi. They will be allowed to take part in it,” Tomar said.
The WFI was reportedly considering keeping the trio away for at least two international meets. They then decided to ban them just for the Worlds, with the federation’s president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh saying he wanted to make an ‘example’ of Vinesh.
Vinesh, who was one of India’s medal prospects at the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics, lost in the early rounds to Belarus’s Vanesa Kaladzinskaya. Following her defeat, an angry WFI issued a show-cause notice for three alleged acts of indiscipline: refusing to stay with the Indian athletes, not training with them and not wearing the official team jersey for her bouts.
The wrestler, who turned 27 on Wednesday, in her reply through lawyer Vidushpat Singhania had refuted the first two allegations and admitted that wearing the wrong singlet was an ‘unintended’ error.
After she was temporarily suspended by the WFI, Vinesh wrote in a column in The Indian Express that she was ‘broken’ following her defeat in the quarterfinals of the 53kg weight class at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I slept once since I reached home. I slept for two hours on the flight and sometimes in the Village. There, I would walk alone and drink coffee. I was alone. When the sun would rise, I felt sleepy,” she wrote. “I don’t know when I will return (to the mat). Maybe I won’t. I feel I was better off with that broken leg (suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics). I had something to correct. Now my body is not broken, but I’m truly broken.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mindful of reports about her ‘not meeting anyone’ following the defeat at the Tokyo Games, told Vinesh during the breakfast meeting he hosted last week that ‘self-anger and dejection’ were emotions that needed to be avoided. He had also invited Vinesh for a personal meeting along with her family members.
Tomar, meanwhile, said only those wrestlers who had taken part in this year’s national championship will be allowed to take part in the selection trials for the World Championship, with exceptions in some cases.