With allegations of sexual harassment flying thick and fast in Indian hockey, it seems that officials in other sports are refusing to take any chances.
On Saturday, the Indian Weightlifting Federation suspended a coach it had previously twice nominated for the Dronacharya Award.
Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach Ramesh Malhotra, was suspended with immediate effect after the IWF received a complaint from Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari that the coach was targetting junior women lifters. Malhotra, who was working with the Commonwealth core group weightlifters at the SAI Centre in Bangalore, was relieved of all duties.
“The allegations might have related to incidents happened earlier. We took charge only in December last year and we don't have any complaint by anybody, including lifters, about sexual harassment by any coach or officials,” said IWF Secretary General Sahdev Yadav. “But we don't want to ignore anything so we have decided to suspend Malhotra and constitute a three-member committee to look into the allegations,” added Yadav, who had served as treasurer in the earlier executive committee.
The current executive committee only took over in December last year, and Yadav suggested that the incidents Malleshwari referred to happened in the past, and not during the tenure of the current committee.
The IWF also denied that Malleswari had raised the sexual harassment issue during the executive committee meeting held in Udaipur in February before the National Senior Championships.
“No grievance or objection from any executive committee member had been received in the executive committee meeting (in Udaipur),” said Yadav.
The committee, though, is unlikely to call Malleswari, also an IWF vice-president, to present her case before the probe panel.
“It is upto the committee to decide. But the committee will look into past records whether there have been complaints of sexual harassment made by anybody, including players, against coaches or officials,” said Yadav.