Coach, two referees 'axed' ahead of U-23 and 17 Asian Championships

The competitions in the U-17 age group are scheduled to begin on Saturday, the U-23 events will commence on June 15.
International referee and former field hockey player Jagbir Singh.
International referee and former field hockey player Jagbir Singh.

CHENNAI: As the ongoing unrest was not enough, the last-minute removal of a coach and two referees could hinder Indian wrestlers' campaign at the U-23 and 17 Asian Championships. The tournament is scheduled in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from June 10 to 18. It is learnt freestyle coach of the U-17 team Rajiv Tomar and two referees Jagbir Singh and Virender Malik, who were scheduled to oversee U-23 bouts, have apparently been struck off the team list.

Jagbir is an international referee who recently corroborated a few female wrestlers' allegations against the sidelined Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. However, this apparently did not lead to his removal. Instead, it was his statements against the government during the wrestlers' protest in Haridwar that made the authorities concerned to drop him. The competitions in the U-17 age group are scheduled to begin on Saturday, the U-23 events will commence on June 15.

"Jagbir's speech against the government apparently did not go down well with the Sports Authority of India (SAI). Similarly, it was perceived that Virender is close to the previous WFI regime hence he was removed. The same is the reason for action against coach Tomar," a source in the know of things told this daily. Notably, referee Virender had earlier been held on charges of sexual assault in Glasgow during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Now India will have only one referee in U-23 competitions. This can affect our wrestlers' chances at the event. Usually, the presence of referees helps wrestlers during close bouts. Their technical expertise helps the team's cause. Similarly, U-17 freestyle wrestlers can feel the absence of their coach to some extent," added the source.

Teams leave in batches for the international events, which usually start with Greco-Roman competitions followed by bouts in women's wrestling and freestyle. Jagbir and Virender were scheduled to fly with the first batch of the U-23 wrestlers and their support staff on June 13. The selection trials to pick up the teams for the event were conducted by the ad-hoc committee formed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to run the WFI.

Voters list sought
The ad-hoc panel, meanwhile, started gathering voters list to prepare the electoral roll for the impending WFI elections. The names of presidents and secretaries of member state units have been sought by the panel for the purpose. Earlier, the sports minister Anurag Thakur had assured that the elections will be held by June 30. The federation has 25 affiliated units including Railways and Services. However, RSPB and SSCB do not have voting rights. Each affiliated member will have two votes during the polls.

Cops take woman wrestler to WFI's office
The Delhi police on Friday took a woman wrestler, who has accused Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment, to WFI's office in New Delhi. Cops claimed that they wanted to recreate the sequence of events that led to the alleged crime. It should be noted that Brij Bhushan's bungalow houses the WFI's office.

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