Sending out a stern message that indiscipline will not be tolerated, the Wrestling Federation of India has barred 10 women wrestlers, including U-23 World Championship bronze medallist Nisha Dahiya and a few youngsters, from competing in the trials for the upcoming Asia Championship.
The barred wrestlers either did not report for the national camp in Lucknow or left after just two days, making excuses. The camp began on February 9.
The Asian Championship is scheduled to be held in Mongolia from April 19-24 and the trials for women wrestlers are scheduled for Friday at the SAI Centre in Lucknow.
The wrestlers in question, including Nisha, who competes in 65kg category, requested to be let off but the WFI did not budge. Nisha was in the news recently when the report of her murder in Haryana emerged, which turned out to be fake.
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Other wrestlers who have been barred from the national camp are Honey Kumari (50kg), Ankush (53kg), Anju (55kg), Raman (55kg), Geeta (59kg), Bhateri (65kg), Priyanka (65kg), Naina (68kg) and Pooja (76kg).
Bhateri, Anju and Honey also sought permission from the WFI to compete in trials but the federation put its foot down.
The celebrated Geeta Phogat, who recently made a comeback during the National Championship in Gonda, has reported an injury.
Missing out on this opportunity is a huge loss for Anju, who is coming up nicely and opening up an option in the category of star wrestler Vinesh Phogat.
Since Sonam Malik is still unfit and Bhateri and Priyanka are barred from trials, the road has become easier for struggling Sakshi Malik to book her slot in the Indian team in 65kg.
"We will ask for an explanation from the wrestlers why are they not taking national camp seriously. Missing out on a chance to compete in a tournament like Asian Championship will certainly teach them a lesson," WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh told PTI on the sidelines of the men's trials at the IG stadium.
"Our second line is pretty strong, so we can take these tough steps to ensure discipline at the national camp. We don't want to hurt chances of good wrestlers but they need to understand that they can't take things for granted," he added.
The federation believes that more than the wrestlers, their personal coaches are responsible for the mess.
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"They train them and that's good but once camp starts, wrestlers should not miss that unless the federation has permitted them for a valid reason. The coaches tell wrestlers that they can train them better at their personal centres and at the camp they risk exposing their games.
"Also, maybe they want to avoid scrutiny at the camp. The doping officials can come anytime there but at personal centres (akhaadas), who is going to check if the wrestlers are taking a clean diet," said the WFI chief.
The WFI has a reason to feel worried since at least four Indian wrestlers, including two at cadet level, have been caught for doping since 2016. For each offence during an international tournament, the WFI had to shell out 20,000 Swiss Francs as fine to the global governing body of the game -- United World Wrestling (UWW).
"We have paid 80,000 Swiss Francs (close to 65 lakh) as penalty in last few years for no fault of ours. So we want our wrestlers to train at camp so that the wrestlers do not even think of taking any banned substance," said Singh.