Olympian Om Prakash Karhana, an IOA athlete commission member, comes out in support of wrestlers
Om Prakash Karhana, a member of the Indian Olympic Association's Athlete's Commission, spoke out in favour of the wrestlers who are protesting against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, saying that "justice should be delivered to athletes who are fighting for their rights."
Former Asian champion Karhana, 36, claimed that denying the wrestlers' accusations would damage Indian sport because players would lose trust in the system. "I'm not speaking on behalf of the athletes commission but my personal view is that if athletes have come out in the open to fight for their rights, the system in the country should take steps to deliver justice to them as soon as possible," Karhana told PTI.
"Especially in a case relating to women athletes, the authorities should not sweep anything under the carpet. It's a serious matter and should be dealt with a proper and fair process to find out the truth. "It should be black and white regarding who is doing wrong things -- whether the accused or the accusor," said the 2012 London Olympian.
Karhana believes that the wrestlers' protest would have an effect on Indian sports. "I come from a village and in many villages, women are still discouraged to take up sports. So, if the authorities do not take the matter seriously and probe the allegations by women athletes in a fair process, no parent will allow them to go out and play sports."
In a meeting with the IOA on Saturday, six members of the athlete's commission, including Karhana, recommended setting up appropriate procedures to handle athlete issues with respect and dignity.
Karhana refused to comment on what happened during the meeting, claiming that only the vice chairperson or chairwoman of the commission may make public pronouncements. "I can't speak about the discussions during the meeting. But if a commission, which is set up for the betterment of the athletes, does not look into their issues, who else will do? That is what I can say," he said.
(With PTI inputs)