The Delhi High Court questioned two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar on Wednesday for finding fault with the policy of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) that had enabled him to participate in three consecutive Olympics.
Sushil has petitioned the court for a direction to the WFI to hold selection trials with Narsingh Yadav, who earned the qualification berth for the country, to decide the entry in the 74 kg freestyle category for the Rio Games.
“You were sent to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics because of this policy. Now you are challenging the same policy. You can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds,” Justice Manmohan remarked, adding that the federation has been consistent with its policy.
The court reminded senior advocate Amit Sibal, representing Sushil, that his client was sent to the 2004 Games after securing third position in the 2003 world championships.
“You must select the best athlete for the competition. When a trial is done, you must concentrate on that athlete. When he (Narsingh) qualified in the world championships with a bronze medal, he has proved his mettle. He is not a pushover. Nobody can run him down,” the court said.
On Sushil’s contention that he could not participate in the trials due to injury, Justice Manmohan said, “If an athlete is unfit on the day of trail, he does not play, this happens in every other sport. Call it bad luck.”
The court said though Sushil’s credentials as one of the best in the world is not disputed, he has been absent from any trials or competition since August 2014.
The sports ministry supported WFI’s decision saying it was an autonomous body and had the discretion to select the athletes who represent the country. “There is no arbitrariness in whatever they have done,” its counsel said.
Sibal argued that the National Sports Code, which prescribes selection trials for international events like the Olympics, must be followed. He argued that trials are held in other countries, including US, Russia and Canada.
“They (WFI) have not asked me to participate in any event. It is not the case that I have refused to participate in any event. I have given all the medical certificates for my injury,” Sibal said adding that financial assistance was given to his client under the Target Olympic Podium scheme (TOPs).
The court took exception to an affidavit filed by the WFI vice-president, which allegedly misrepresented facts regarding the holding of trials by the federation in the past. The court said it was inclined to initiate proceedings against him.
The next hearing is on Thursday.