Suspended coach Ramesh Malhotra today maintained that he never "misbehaved" with women weightlifters during his career and is confident of being "absolved" of sexual harassment charges by the IWF inquiry committee.
Sydney Olympics bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari had alleged that Malhotra had been sexually harassing lifters for more than a decade now but the coach said the charges were "false" and aimed at tarnishing his reputation.
"I have not misbehaved with any woman lifter in my career as a weightlifting coach. I treat all of them as my children," Malhotra, who is in the Capital said. See cartoon
"The allegations levelled by Malleswari are false. Truth will come out after the inquiry committee probe. I am confident that I would be absolved of the charges by the committee," he said.
He, however, admitted that an anonymous letter was sent to SAI some 10 years ago alleging that he "was behaving inappropriately" with a woman lifter.
"I think around 10 years ago I don't know which year, I was accused of behaving inappropriately with a woman lifter. Protima Kumari was asked to leave the camp and she stayed at my residence for three months to train under me. I did it after my wife and mother agreed to it. But some people took it in the wrong way. What can I do?" he asked.
Malhotra, who was serving as coach of the core group lifters of the Commonwealth Games at NIS Patiala before his suspension pending an inquiry, said the "false" charges have dented the chances of his winning this year's Dronacharya award.
"I have coached many top lifters who have won laurels for the country for so many years. But now I feel I am nothing after Malleswari made the allegations," he said.
"I thought I had a good chance of winning the Dronacharya Award this time. But now I don't think that I will get the award after the allegations," he added.
The SAI coach welcomed the three-member inquiry committee's decision to travel to NIS Patiala to interact with the Commonwealth Games core group women lifters.
"I am happy that the committee is going to Patiala. They will get to know how I behaved with the women lifters there," he said.
"I have still not been asked by the committee to meet them or submit my case in writing. I am expecting a call from the committee soon," he added.
Malhotra was suspended on Saturday by the Indian Weightlifting Federation pending a probe by an inquiry committee comprising IWF vice-president Kumbasi Subramanya, veteran coach Pal Singh Sandhu and joint Secretary Madan Lal Savli.