Commonwealth Games gold medalists Geeta and Babita Phogat, along with 13 other wrestlers were in danger of missing out on Asian Games 2018 berths after the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) dropped them from ongoing national camps over alleged "indiscipline".
All 15 wrestlers, including all four Phogat sisters — Babita, Geeta, Ritu, and Sangeeta, were sent show-cause notices on Thursday, May 17 over snubbing the national camps. The WFI had reportedly decided not to let the said wrestlers participate in Asian Games trials, which was scheduled at the end of the camps.
Wrestlers can return to the camp if they have valid reasons: WFI vice president
However, the governing body of Indian wrestling seems to have softened its stance over the matter as WFI vice-president Raj Kanwar Hooda told The Times of India that athletes would be allowed to return to the camps if they had "valid reasons" for skipping the national camps.
Notably, the men's camp had begun in Sonepat on May 10 and will run till May 25 while the women's camp is running simultaneously in Lucknow.
"A panel will be constituted by the president which will consider the requests of the athletes. If the players give relevant reasons in the show-cause notice, the panel will take them into consideration and then give a verdict," Hooda said, as quoted by the report.
"I think they can return to the camp if they give valid reasons," he added.
Geeta and Babita Phogat claim injury
Meanwhile, Geeta said she has been nursing a knee injury in Bengaluru and that she would be joining the national camp on Saturday, May 19.
Babita revealed she was not able to join the national camp due to a knee injury, which aggravated after her silver medal-winning performance at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last month.
She also expressed surprise at the exclusions of her sisters, Ritu and Sangeeta. She claimed that the WFI was only making arrangements for the duo to train overseas and that wrestlers, who go overseas for training, were allowed to skip national camps in the past.
"I was feeling pain in my knee during the 2018 Commonwealth Games also. But as I was in the national squad, I did not pay much heed and went on to play. However, after returning the pain has aggravated and I had to visit my doctor at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai," Babita said.
"The WFI was involved in the processing of the visas of Ritu and Sangeeta for a camp in Russia," the two-time Commonwealth Games medalist added.
"There is a provision that if players want to train abroad with better facilities, they can skip the national camp.
"Earlier, Sushil Kumar and Bajrang Punia have also done the same. But since federation was aware of this fact, I don't [know] why their names have been excluded."
Indian wrestlers are expected to do well at the upcoming Asian Games, starting August 18 in Jakarta. Notably, all 12 wrestlers, who are part of the Indian contingent at Commonwealth Games 2018, returned home with medals.