Women Wrestlers Molested By National Coaches, Alleges Vinesh Phogat
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh have come under fire from Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in the Asian and Commonwealth Games. The seasoned competitor, who has also competed for India in the Olympics, claimed that “national trainers have for years assaulted female wrestlers and have received death threats from WFI officials.” She and other prominent Indian wrestlers staged a sizable demonstration on Wednesday at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The WFI president’s resignation was demanded by the wrestlers.
“We will not compete in any international competition until WFI President is removed”, Bajrang Punia, Olympic bronze medallist wrestler, declared at the protest.
Since 2011, Singh has served as the WFI’s president. In February 2019, he was chosen to lead WFI for the third time in a row.
“We were threatened that our careers will come to an end if we speak. Federation members used profanities against female wrestlers. We have approached the Prime Minister as well,” Vinesh added.
Thirty wrestlers gathered in Jantar Mantar on Wednesday, including Rio Olympics medalist Sakshi Malik, world championship medalist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha, and CWG medalist Sumit Malik.Vinesh, an Olympian and world championship medalist, also asserted that several instructors at the national camp in Lucknow had taken advantage of female wrestlers. She added that a few other ladies at the camp had been instructed by the WFI President to approach wrestlers.
“Some coaches are close to the national federations. Those coaches have exploited young girls. Don’t know how many young girls have suffered due to them,” Vinesh further stated.
The 28-year-old did, however, clarify that she has not personally experienced such exploitation, but she claimed that she has received death threats at the direction of WFI President from individuals close to him because she dared to bring up several problems affecting Indian wrestling when she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Tokyo Games.
Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, the president of the WFI, has addressed the accusations. “I came here as soon as I got to know the wrestlers are protesting. Is there anyone on record who can say the Federation has molested us?” he said at a press conference. “If you had such issues with the federation, then why did nobody raise them for 10 years? Issues come up whenever rules are formed.”
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