Sports Ministry Suspends New Wrestling Federation Chief Over Controversial Venue Choice

Sanjay Singh WFI

New Delhi: The newly-elected president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Sanjay Singh, has been suspended by the Sports Ministry and his team for choosing a controversial venue for the upcoming junior national championships. Sanjay Singh, who won the WFI elections on December 19, 2023, had announced that the Under-15 and Under-20 championships would be held in Nandini Nagar, Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, which is the home turf of his close associate and outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The decision sparked a backlash from several wrestlers, including Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, who announced her retirement from the sport after the elections. Sakshi Malik took to social media to express her anguish and question the suitability of Nandini Nagar for hosting the junior women wrestlers. She wrote, “I have given up wrestling but am troubled since last night. What should those junior female wrestlers who are calling me and telling me that Junior Nationals are to be held from the 28th and that the new wrestling federation has decided to hold it in Nandini Nagar Gonda? Gonda is the area of Brij Bhushan, now imagine in what environment the junior women wrestlers will go there to wrestle. Is there no place in this country to get the national done anywhere other than Nandini Nagar? I don’t understand what to do.”

Sanjay Singh WFI

The Sports Ministry, which had earlier suspended the WFI for not conducting its elections on time, took cognizance of the matter and issued a suspension order to Sanjay Singh and his team until further notice. The ministry also asked the Indian Olympic Association to constitute an ad-hoc committee to oversee the affairs of the WFI and conduct fresh elections as soon as possible. The suspension means that Indian wrestlers will not be able to participate in the World Championships under the Indian flag and will have to compete as neutral athletes⁴. The suspension also puts a question mark on the future of Indian wrestling, which controversies and allegations of sexual harassment and corruption have plagued.