WFI Lets Off Vinesh Phogat With a Warning

By Aparajita Patel

Vinesh Phogat, who was briefly suspended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for suspected indiscipline, was given a reprimand on Wednesday and will be eligible for this year’s World Championship. Sonam Malik and Divya Kakran, two more wrestlers, have also been cautioned, but, like Vinesh, they will compete in the World Championships.

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, in a letter to the three wrestlers, stated that they will be “compelled” to impose lifetime bans on the trio for any future acts of indiscipline.

“Even though your written response to the show-cause notice that you had provided to the Wrestling Federation of India office was not adequate, the Wrestling Federation of India wants to offer you one more chance to correct your mistakes,” Sharan said in the August 24, 2021 letter. “As a result, the disciplinary committee of the Wrestling Federation of India forgives you with the warning that if you repeat your mistakes, the Wrestling Federation of India will be forced to impose a lifetime ban on you.”

On Wednesday evening, all wrestlers were informed of the decision. All three wrestlers will be eligible to compete in the World Championship selection trials next week in Oslo, Norway, according to WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar. “On August 31, we will hold selection trials in New Delhi. They will be permitted to participate,” Tomar stated.

According to reports, the WFI was considering barring the trio from competing in at least two international events. The federation’s president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, said he wanted to make an “example” of Vinesh, therefore they decided to ban them only for the Worlds.

Vinesh, who was one of India’s medal hopes at the just-finished Tokyo Olympics, was knocked out in the first round by Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus. After her loss, the 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 proper team uniform for her bouts.

The wrestler, who turned 27 on Wednesday, rejected the first two charges in a statement issued through her lawyer, Vidushpat Singhania, and confessed that wearing the wrong singlet was an “unintended” blunder.

Vinesh stated in a column for The Indian Express after she was provisionally suspended by the WFI that she was “broken” after losing in the quarterfinals of the 53kg weight class in the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’ve only slept once since I got home. On the plane and in the Village, I slept for two hours each time. I would walk alone and enjoy coffee there. I was on my own. “I felt sleepy when the sun rose,” she wrote. “I’m not sure when I’ll be back” (to the mat). Perhaps I won’t. I believe I would have been better off with a broken leg (suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics). I needed to make a change. My body is no longer broken, but I am completely broken.”

Following reports that she was “not meeting anyone” after the setback at the Tokyo Olympics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed Vinesh at a breakfast meeting he attended last week that “self-anger and dejection” were feelings that needed to be avoided. He had also invited Vinesh and her family members to a private meeting. Meanwhile, Tomar stated that only wrestlers who competed in this year’s national championship will be able to compete in the World Championship selection trials, with some exclusions.