SAI calls back contingent, orders probe
Sports Authority of India (SAI) has called the entire Indian cycling contingent back from Slovenia after a female cyclist accused chief coach R K Sharma of “inappropriate behavior”.
The Indian endurance contingent, consisting of five males and a female, flew to Slovenia on May 15 and was scheduled to return on June 14.
SAI has already called back the cyclist, who made the allegations and formed an inquiry committee to look into the matter.
Cycling Federation of India (CFI) Chairman Onkar Singh told a news agency that SAI has decided to cut short the training trip.
“SAI official called up CFI this morning and said all the contingent including coach RK Sharma will be called back immediately from Slovenia,” Singh said.
SAI also shot off a separate missive to coach Sharma to return as soon as possible.
The training-cum-competition trip to Slovenia was arranged to help the Indian team prepare well for the Asian Track Cycling Championships, scheduled to be held in the national capital from June 18 to 22.
The female cyclist had apprised the SAI of inappropriate behavior by the coach during her stay in Slovenia and was so terrified that she feared for her life.
The matter had come to light on Monday when SAI issued a statement, saying it has called the cyclist back to ensure her safety.
The complainant claimed that the coach forced her to share a hotel room with him on the pretext that accommodation has been arranged on a twin-sharing basis.
Later on her request, SAI arranged for a separate single room for her but the coach did not take her to Germany for an event along with the other members of the contingent for putting up resistance.
The coach threatened the cyclist that he will destroy her career by having her removed from the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) if she will not sleep with him, according to the complaint.
Fearing for her safety, the cyclist had then decided to quit the training camp.
However, it has come to light that SAI had arranged for a separate room for her because she was the only female member of the contingent and there was no need for her to share the room with anyone.
Coach Sharma will have to appear before a five-member inquiry panel, which will be headed by SAI’s internal sexual harassment committee head.
The CFI has also formed a four-member committee to probe the matter and had promised complete backing to the victim.
The CFI’s panel includes secretary-general Maninder Pal Singh, SS Sudeesh Kumar (President, Kerala Cycling), Dipali Nikam (chief coach, Maharashtra cycling team), and assistant secretary VN Singh.