Wrestler Vinesh Phogat suspension over after a warning by WFI on her 27th birthday

It was a happy 27th birthday for Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat when Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) ended her temporary suspension for alleged indiscipline. The grappler will now be eligible to compete at this year’s World Championships after she was let off with a warning on Wednesday (August 25).

Like Vinesh, the other two Indian wrestlers Sonam Malik and Divya Kakran, have also been cautioned and will now be in contention to compete in the World Championships. In a letter addressed to the three wrestlers, WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said they will be ‘compelled’ to impose lifetime bans on the trio for any act of indiscipline in the future.

“Even though your written reply to the show-cause notice, which you had sent to the Wrestling Federation of India office, was not satisfactory, the Wrestling Federation of India wants to give you one more chance so that you can rectify your mistakes,” Sharan wrote in the letter, dated August 24, 2021, as quoted by Indian Express newspaper.

“Therefore, the Wrestling Federation of India’s disciplinary committee forgives you with a warning that if you repeat your mistakes, then the Wrestling Federation of India will be compelled to impose a lifetime ban on you.”

The decision was communicated to all wrestlers on Wednesday (August 25) evening. WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said all three wrestlers will be eligible to take part in the selection trials next week for October’s World Championship, which will be held in Oslo, Norway.

“We will be conducting selection trials on August 31 in New Delhi. They will be allowed to take part in it,” Tomar told Indian Express.

The WFI was reportedly considering keeping the trio away for at least two international meets. They then decided to ban them just for the Worlds, with the federation’s president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh saying he wanted to make an ‘example’ of Vinesh.

Vinesh, who was one of India’s medal prospects at the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics, lost in the early rounds to Belarus’s Vanesa Kaladzinskaya. Following her defeat, 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 official team jersey for her bouts.

The wrestler in her reply through lawyer Vidushpat Singhania had refuted the first two allegations and admitted that wearing the wrong singlet was an ‘unintended’ error.

“I slept once since I reached home. I slept for two hours on the flight and sometimes in the Village. There, I would walk alone and drink coffee. I was alone. When the sun would rise, I felt sleepy,” she wrote in a column. “I don’t know when I will return (to the mat). Maybe I won’t. I feel I was better off with that broken leg (suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics). I had something to correct. Now my body is not broken, but I’m truly broken.”

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Sagar Biswas

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