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WFI temporarily suspends four Indian wrestlers

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday issued show cause notice to four wrestlers including the two Phogat sisters Babita Kumari and Geeta and handed them temporary suspension for showing indiscipline, bringing their dreams of qualifying for Rio Olympics to an abrupt end.

Babita Kumari and Geeta-AV

Besides the Phogat sisters, Sumit (men’s 125kg freestyle) and Rahul Aware (men’s 57kg freestyle), have also been temporarily banned.

“Four of them have been handed temporary suspension and are de-barred from taking part in the next Olympic qualification event in Istanbul,” Assistant secretary of WFI, Vinod Tomar said.

The last Olympic qualifier — 2nd World Qualification tournament — is scheduled to take place at Istanbul, Turkey, from May 6-8.

At the recently concluded 1st World Qualification tournament in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Babita had forfeited her repechage bout in women’s 53kg, while Geeta had pulled out citing injury in 58kg.

Meanwhile, Sumit, who had a chance to book an Olympic berth had he won his repechage round followed by two more bouts, but the heavyweight grappler did not turn up for his repechage bout in 125kg freestyle citing injury.

“All these wrestlers have shown indiscipline at the last tournament. Even if you want to forfeit your bout or have injury concern, there is a way and procedure to officially withdraw. But these wrestlers did not bother to follow any proper procedure. This reflects very poorly on their as well the country’s part. The world body has also debarred them from the next competition,” said the official.

It is learnt that the wrestlers have been given time till May 15 to give an explanation and then a disciplinary committee would be formed to hand punishments to these offenders.

“Sumit, in all probability, will be handed a ban because he had a chance of assuring an Olympic quota place for India in the Rio Games in 125kg category. While Babita and Geeta did not have a chance of qualifying but they should have followed the procedure even if they did not want to fight and preserve their energy for the next qualification tournament.

“Both Babita and Geeta are barred from going to Turkey. In their place Lalita and Sakshi Malik would be taking part. Similarly, another grappler would represent India in men’s 125kg category in the last qualifying event,” Tomar said.

India men’s freestyle and greco-roman teams have been training in Tbilisi, Georgia, for some time now. Rahul Aware, who was also shortlisted by the federation to train in Tbilisi along with his colleagues, however, refused to go to Georgia, citing that his visa was not done for the two qualification events in Mongolia and Turkey.

“Rahul Aware will also face stern punishment as he refused to board the flight to Georgia, thinking that the WFI would not give him a chance to participate in qualification events either in Mongolia or in Turkey, as his visa for neither place was done at that time,” a source in the WFI said.

“But the fact is, WFI had decided to send either him or Amit (both fight in 57kg) to Turkey, had Sandeep Tomar (who qualified in this category at Mongolia) failed to book a berth at Mongolia. WFI had decided that whoever among the three was doing best during the training would be sent and subsequently be issued the visa for travelling to Turkey from Mongolia itself.

“Just like it is now being done for those who would participate in place of Babita and Geeta. But Rahul still returned home from the airport, wasting the ticket,” the official explained.

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