New Delhi: Suspended coach Ramesh Malhotra has got the backing of 16 core group women lifters who are training at NIS Patiala for the Commonwealth Games as they wrote a letter to Indian Weightlifting Federation asking it to reinstate him.
Malhotra was suspended by IWF and later asked by SAI to withdraw from the camp after Sydney Olympics bronze medalist Karnam Malleswari alleged that he had been sexually harassing lifters for more than a decade.
"His suspension has affected the morale of the team and this will certainly affect the performance of the women`s team in the Commonwealth Games. We request you to call Ramesh Malhotra back to the national camp," the letter signed by all the 16 lifters said.
"He has never misbehaved with any of us," it added.
IWF Secretary Sahdev Yadav confirmed the receipt of the letter from the 16 lifters.
"We have got the letter today and we have verified the signatures," he told reporters.
Asked if the lifters could have been forced to sign the letter, Yadav said, "I don`t think so."
Yadav said the three-man inquiry committee which will probe the case is yet to leave for Patiala to meet the women lifters as the officials are busy for the August 7-8 selection trial here which would act as the Commonwealth Games test event.
"We can give them extension of time (from the earlier seven days deadline)," he said.
The committee comprises of IWF vice-president Kumbasi Subramanya, veteran coach Pal Singh Sandhu and joint Secretary Madan Lal Savli.
Instead of a national or an international meet, the weightlifting test event will have the 33 lifters competing for a place in the October 3-14 multi-sporting event.
15 lifters will be selected out of the 33, one in each category -- eight in mens and seven in womens.
The weightlifting stadium at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex where the selection trial will be held will be inaugurated in a few days.