United World Wrestling (UWW), the world governing body for wrestling, on Thursday decided to suspend the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for its failure to hold its elections on time.
The decision acts as a massive setback for the sport in the country, with India’s wrestlers now facing the prospect of competing under a neutral flag.
The WFI has been embroiled in controversy for the last few months over allegations of sexual harassment against its former chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the lengthy protests by the cream of India’s top wrestlers.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had, in April, appointed an ad hoc committee to run the affairs of the wrestling federation, with a directive to hold fresh elections in 45 days, which has since been delayed several times.
Taking note of the situation in India “with great concern”, the UWW had, in a statement in May, warned about the possibility of suspension if the 45-day deadline for elections was not respected.
“Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year,” the UWW said in its May statement.