Three-time Commonwealth Games champion has accused Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment, with the national team hosting a protest against him.
Phogat is one of her country’s most significant athletes, having won three consecutive gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, as well as two bronze medals at the World Wrestling Championships.
She said speaking up has made her fear for her life.
Her accusations extend past Singh – who is also a Member of Parliament for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and implicate coaches too.
“Women wrestlers have been sexually harassed at national camps by coaches and also the WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan,” said Phogat to Indian media.
“Some of the coaches appointed at national camps have been sexually harassing women wrestlers for years.
“The WFI President is also involved in sexual harassment.”
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President PT Usha said the welfare of the nation’s athletes was her “priority” in a statement today.
“As IOA President, I’ve been discussing the current matter of wrestlers with the members and for all of us the welfare and well being of the athletes is the top most priority of IOA,” said Usha on Twitter.
“We request athletes to come forward and voice their concerns with us.
“We will ensure a complete investigation to ensure justice.
“We also have decided to form a special committee to deal with such situations that may arise in the future, for swifter action.”
Phogat was joined by her national team-mates at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, one of the most significant gathering places in India.
Sakshi Malik, the country’s only female Olympic medallist, corroborated the claims – promising to hand over the names of victims to those doing an investigation into the matters.
“We have just come to save them,” said Malik.
“We are fighting for them, when the time comes, we will speak up.
“We will give the names of those who have been exploited to whoever is doing the probe.”
Singh dismissed the accusations made against him in response to the protest.
“Is anyone saying that the WFI has sexually harassed a wrestler?” said Singh.
“Only Vinesh has said it.
“Has anyone come forward and said that they personally have been sexually harassed?
“Even if one wrestler comes forward and says that she has been sexually harassed, that day I can be hanged.”