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UWW lifts suspension on India, asks WFI not to discriminate against protesting wrestlers

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Wrestling's world governing body on Tuesday lifted the provisional suspension on India but directed the national federation to provide written guarantees that there would be no discriminatory action against the protesting trio of Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik.

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The suspension was imposed by United World Wrestling (UWW) on August 23 last year after the national federation failed to hold elections in time.

"The UWW Bureau met on February 9 to review the suspension among other topics and considering all the elements and information, it decided to lift the suspension," the world body said in a statement.

"The WFI has to immediately provide UWW with written guarantees that all wrestlers will be considered for participation without any discrimination in all WFI events, in particular trials for the Olympic Games and any other major national and international events.

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"This non-discrimination includes the three athletes who protested against alleged wrongdoings by the former President (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh)," it asserted.

The suspension had followed days of protest against the then WFI President for alleged acts of sexual harassment and corruption. The trio of Punia, Malik and Phogat had taken to the streets to lodge their protest and were often seen breaking down while pleading for action against Singh. The legal proceedings against Singh are ongoing at this point.

The lifting of the ban means that Indian wrestlers will now be able to compete under the country's flag at the next UWW event.

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"The UWW Disciplinary Chamber (on August 23 last year) decided that it had sufficient grounds to impose the provisional suspension on the body as the situation in the federation prevailed for at least six months," the press release stated.

The world body also asked the WFI to re-convene the elections of its Athletes' Commission.

"The candidates for this commission shall be active athletes or retired for no longer than four years. The voters shall be exclusively athletes," it ordered.

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"These elections shall take place during trials or any senior national championships where this operation can take place, but no later than July 1, 2024," it added.

The world body said it will remain in touch with the wrestlers and follow up with them on the developments in the coming days.

In the WFI elections held in December last year Sanjay Singh, a close aide of the former President, was elected the new head.

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The federation was suspended within days of taking charge by the sports ministry which cited violation of the national sports code as the reason. It appointed an ad-hoc committee to run the sport.

The WFI rejected the sports ministry's decision and has been locked in a turf war with the ad-hoc committee.

The two bodies held separate national championships recently, causing confusion within the wrestling community. PTI KHS PM PM PM PM

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