Won't contest for president's post in WFI elections on May 7: Brij Bhushan
Brij Bhushan has served three four-year terms as president in a row and according to the Sports Code after completing 12 years as WFI chief, he is ineligible to contest for the top post.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is awaiting a report by a government panel on the sexual harassment allegations against him, confirmed on Sunday that he will not contest for the president's post in WFI election on May 7 but hinted that he might look for a new role within the federation.
At its Emergency General Council and Executive Committee meeting, chaired by Secretary General VN Prasood, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced the election schedule. Brij Bhushan has served three four-year terms as president in a row and according to the Sports Code after completing 12 years as WFI chief, he is ineligible to contest for the top post.
"We had to schedule elections earlier, but due to the recent controversy, we could not hold the elections earlier, but now we will move forward. I will follow the Sports Code and not contest for president's post," Brij Bhushan told PTI after the meeting. So does that mean that he will not be involved with WFI anymore?
"I have said I will not contest for president's post, I have not said I will not contest elections." Brij Bhushan, 66, will have to serve a four-year cooling off period to regain the eligibility to contest for an office bearer's post. However, he can be part of the five-member WFI Executive Committee.
By the time he serves cooling off period in 2027, he would have attained the age of 70 and that will again make him ineligible to contest according to the Code, that has placed the age cap on all officials. It will be interesting to see if his son Karan, who is the president of UP Wrestling Association, throws his hat into the ring.
Asked if he was allowed to attend the AGM in the wake of sexual harassment and intimidation accusations levelled against him by the top wrestlers of the country, the WFI President said, he has worked within the rules.
"In writing, I was asked to step aside for three weeks, and later it was extended to six weeks, and I did that. I have appeared at IOA and oversight panel hearings. I can work as WFI official now. There is no question of flouting any rule.
"The findings of the committee are with the government, and I am waiting for that report." Country's top wrestlers including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Sarita Mor along with several others, alleged that the WFI chief has sexually harassed female wrestlers and also intimidates the athletes. Brij Bhushan said it was laughable what the wrestlers said during the hearings.
"I could not stop laughing what these wrestlers were saying. If I had anything inappropriate with Sakshi Malik then why did she invite me to her wedding. They come to me with their personal matters and also family issues.
"They sit with my son and daughter-in-law and have food together and now suddenly they are alleging that I have harassed them. If that's the case why do they come to my home?" The WFI boss said the federation will not have revenge in mind when the issue is sorted.
"There are a lot of people, who can't face me now, not just these protesting wrestlers. But if they want to play, the process remains the same for everyone. All eligible candidates can compete but WFI is not going to exempt any wrestler from Olympic trials even if a wrestler wins quota in a specific category.
"If Bajrang books Olympic quota, he will have to beat the winner of the national trials to compete in Olympics. if he loses, he will still be a given a chance after 15 days for a re-match and earn a place in the Indian team.
"There will be no discrimination. I have not done anything wrong. These wrestlers were just a pawn, someone else is behind this controversy. The wrestlers have been used for this. "I have not spent one day in any sort of guilt, I have kept doing my work and the federation will continue to do that whether I remain part of it or not."