The alleged sexual harassment controversy against a senior coach has taken its toll on the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) with a prospective sponsor for team kit backing out of its commitment.
This has come as a big setback for the IWLF, which has been struggling to raise the money for paying the balance fine of $3,75,000 to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in a doping sanction against the country.
The IWLF has already paid $1,25,000 of the $5,00,000 fine imposed by the IWF and had approached the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Union Sports Ministry to help it pay the remaining amount by August 31.
Beyond the deadline, the IWF has threatened not to allow Indian weightlifters to compete in international competitions, including the Commonwealth Games. The IWF action followed six positive dope cases of Indian lifters last year.
The IOA has said it would not pay, while the Sports Ministry is unwilling to bail out a federation in a dope-related suspension since the WADA stakeholders are expected to stop funding athletes and organisations on dope-related charges rather than aid them.
The IWLF's promise of more than a dozen medals in the Commonwealth Games is, however, a huge temptation for authorities to help the federation pay up.
The IWLF had been eyeing the sponsorship deal to utilise part of the funds to pay the fine and clear the roadblock for India's participation in the Commonwealth Games.
“It was a three-year deal for Rs. 2.5 crore. They would have been the team kit sponsor and used their logo in our (IWLF) championships. But, the sex scandal has ruined the deal and now they do not want to be associated with us,” said IWLF Secretary Sahdev Yadav on Thursday. He did not name the sponsor, a soft drinks company.
“Now the situation is very bleak (regarding paying the fine in time). The hard work we had put in to generate money and pay part of the fine would go in vain,” Yadav said.
Apart from the sport benefiting, the sponsorship deal would have helped the lifters immensely. “They had a separate plan to give cash awards to Commonwealth Games medallists as well. But now the lifters will lose out,” Yadav said.
However, the IWLF is trying to convince the sponsor to rethink its decision and back the sport.
To follow guidelines
Meanwhile, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) on Thursday informed the Union Sports Ministry that it was willing to follow the government guidelines on age and tenure.
In a letter to Union Sports Minister Dr. M.S. Gill, IWLF President B.P. Baishya said the decision would be placed before its general house for approval. However, the federation is yet to finalise the date of the meeting.
After the All India Tennis Association (AITA), the IWLF is the second federation to accept the government guidelines on age and tenure.
This is contrary to the united stand taken by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) to reject the guidelines.