Wrestling-Indian federation suspended for failing to hold elections on time

FILE PHOTO: Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik address a news conference as they take part in a sit-in protest demanding arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, who they accuse of sexually harassing female players, in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was banned by the sport's global governing body on Thursday in a fresh crisis for the national federation battling a sexual harassment scandal.

The United World Wrestling (UWW), in a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), conveyed its decision to suspend the WFI for failing to hold fresh elections in the wake of the scandal.

IOA acting Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Chaubey confirmed receiving the UWW letter but did not elaborate when contacted by Reuters.

WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was charged with sexual harassment and criminal intimidation last month after several women wrestlers, accompanied by their male counterparts, staged sit-in protest in April.

Singh, an influential member of parliament from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has denied any wrongdoing and was granted bail last month.

In May, the UWW had threatened to suspend the WFI if it did not hold fresh elections within 45 days.

After multiple delays, the elections were scheduled to be held on Aug. 12 before a high court stayed the polls following legal disputes.

The UWW did not immediately reply to a Reuters email seeking details.

The suspension means Indian wrestlers will compete as neutral athletes at the World Championships in Belgrade from Sept. 16.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ken Ferris)

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