Terming it as “unfortunate” that two world class wrestlers are at loggerheads with each other over who will represent India at the Rio Olympics, the Delhi High Court on Monday remarked they should not be used as “pawns” in the politics of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for Narsingh, told the court that Sushil had not participated in any wrestling competition after July 2014, and had not given any justification for his absence. “He has submitted medical certificates only for July 2015,” said Gupta, who argued that Sushil could have participated in the National Championships in December or the Asian Championships in January to indicate his fitness level. The lawyer also pointed out that Sushil’s letter for leave of absence did not mention medical reasons but cited “urgent unavoidable circumstances” for his absence. Sushil, however, said the WFI had never objected to his medical certificate. Senior advocate Amit Sibal, representing Sushil, told the court that the WFI was not following the procedure under the Olympics rules, which says the berth secured in an event is for a country and not for a particular athlete.

The court would continue hearing arguments in the case on June 1.

Sushil Kumar took a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then silver in the 2012 London Olympics in the 66kg division, but the category was abolished by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) in 2014.

This prompted him to move up to the 74kg weight category which brought him into direct competition with Narsingh Yadav, who was the top Indian wrestler in this class till then.

Sushil Kumar, 32, missed the qualification for Rio Olympics due to injury, and Narsingh Yadav was able to secure the berth for representing the country.

After repeatedly requesting the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for holding trials anew and being denied time and again, Sushil Kumar moved the court for relief.

 

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