Financial dispute between WFI-FILA leaves Yogeshwar high & dry

PTI| Updated: Nov 29, 2013, 17:57 PM IST

New Delhi: Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt has paid the price for Wrestling Federation of India`s financial dispute with FILA as the grappler has been barred from competing in the Golden Grand Prix event in Azerbaijan by the organisers on the world body`s instruction.

Yogeshwar was India`s lone entry to the Grand Prix event as the WFI had sent his name to the organisers. Over two hundred of the world`s best wrestlers from 35 countries competed in Olympic wrestling`s three styles from November 22-24.

The combative wrestler, accompanied by chief coach Vinod Kumar, was in for a rude shock when the organisers barred him from participating on the instructions of FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) owing to the world governing body`s tiff with the Indian federation.

WFI owned some part of the money to FILA for hosting the Asian Wrestling Championships at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi from April 18 to 22 this year.

FILA had demanded the money from WFI during the World Championships in September in Budapest to which the Indian federation assured the governing body to settle the remaining amount during the Heydar Aliev Memorial Invitation.

FILA, however, instructed the organisers to not allow the Indian entry, Yogeshwar, from competing in the event till the issue was not resolved with the WFI.

The dispute between FILA and WFI robbed Yogeshwar of the chance to compete against the world`s best wrestlers and get battle ready for the tough assignments ahead.

Asked about the incident, Yogeshwar told PTI: "Federation must be aware of what went wrong in Baku. There was some problem which I don`t know. You should ask our coach Vinod Kumar who accompanied me or the federation officials. I only know one thing that even my weight did not happen leave alone the participation. It was an important tournament for me for three reasons."

"Firstly, I would have competed as per the new rules introduced by FILA from this season. My injury did not allow me to compete in tournaments with new rules. Secondly, I would have competed in new weight category (66kg) than my traditional weight (60kg).

"As per the changes in weight categories, I am supposed to switch to higher weight category. Thirdly, it takes time to find your lost rhythm keeping the next year in mind. It was disappointing for me to comeback without competing," Yogeshwar said.

To keep himself motivated and give his career an extra push, Yogeshwar decided to participate in an invitational tournament in Azerbaijan with the Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships, Asian Games and World Cup lined up next year.

Making a comeback in sport is never easy as it requires a lot of resolve. For Yogeshwar, it was akin to beginning from scratch after knee and back injuries sidelined him for almost a year. Aware of the fact, he decided to travel to Azerbaijan for the prestigious Heydar Aliev Memorial Invitation to find his lost rhythm.

It was obvious from Yogeshwar`s response that he did not want to upset the federation officials and so remained muted.

"My job is to go in a tournament and compete. What happened there and why it happened, I don`t know. I don`t want to discuss the matter further. I just want to forget the year 2013 and concentrate on the next year. I have no injury issues now. I am fit enough to compete in international tournaments," said the 27-year-old from Bhainswal Kalan, Sonepat.

When contacted, WFI general secretary Raj Singh first tried to play down the incident by merely stating that it was Yogeshwar`s change in weight category that led to his non-participation but when quizzed further, he accepted that it happened due to delay in payment of dues.

"We are waiting for a report from our chief coach Vinod Kumar. The actual reasons will only be known once he files his response. There was some delay in clearing the dues. We had assured the FILA that everything will be cleared during the invitational tournament. We had sent cash with Vinod but FILA decided otherwise," said Raj Singh.

"We have cleared our dues as per our commitment. There was some delay on our part but you have to understand that when foreign exchange is involved, it takes some time on the part of the government. FILA never told us that they would not allow him to participate," he added.