The sports ministry will have to work overtime in the coming days to bury the skeletons coming out of sporting closets. A day after Hockey India submitted its findings to the ministry on the MK Kaushik scandal, ace lifter Karnam Malleswari on Sunday, demanded that Indian Weightlifting Federation secretary general Sahdev Yadav be sacked for previously ignoring complaints of sexual harassment made against Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach Ramesh Malhotra.
The IWF had suspended Malhotra on Saturday following a complaint by Malleswari that he was targeting junior women lifters. IWF also set up a three-member probe panel along the same lines as Hockey India. But Malleswari is not satisfied with the measures taken.
“Removing Malhotra is not enough; the federation secretary needs to be sacked as well. There will be other Malhotras who will take over unless appropriate measures are taken.” A ministry probe into the matter was also asked for.
The Sydney Olympic bronze medallist added that the people probing the matter were well aware of Malhotra’s actions. “Despite repeated requests to the federation, Malhotra was constantly assigned to the junior women’s team and the core group. If he is indispensable, why couldn’t he be assigned to the men’s team?” asked Malleswari. “The intentions (of the federation) are not good.” She said that she had also brought up the issue of Malhotra in an executive committee meeting in Udaipur last year, a charge previously denied by Yadav.
Certain sections of the federation have hinted that the lifter has personal ambitions in IWF, which may be the reason for both the allegations and their timing, but Malleswari was vehement in her denial. “I am a true sportsperson. My personal ambitions were fulfilled when I won an Olympic medal. I plan to start an academy and am open to the idea of coaching as well.”
Charges against Malhotra have been around for close to ten years according to Malleswari, who said that SAI has numerous written complaints but has failed to take affirmative action. “I have come out in the open now only because the situation is desperate. Lifters have been looking up to me, to take up the matter,” she said, while clarifying that she herself never faced any instances of sexual harassment personally.