The contract of a cycling trainer terminated by the Sports Authority for having harassed a cyclist
The female cyclist had informed the SAI of inappropriate behavior by the coach during her stay in Slovenia. The entire Indian contingent has been recalled.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Wednesday terminated the contract of head cycling coach RK Sharma after a preliminary investigation found him guilty of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ with a female cyclist during a training camp in Slovenia. The SAI made the decision hours after deciding to recall the entire Indian contingent from the European nation where the cyclists had left for a training and competition trip.
The survivor, who reportedly feared for her life due to the alleged harassment and asked to return home, has already been flown back to the country, with her safety in mind. SAI had formed a five-member committee, led by its internal sexual harassment committee leader, to review the allegations. The jury submitted an initial report, on the basis of which the sports body made the decision.
“The panel submitted its preliminary report today and, prima facie, the case is established and the Athlete’s allegations are proven,” SAI said in a statement. “The coach who was hired on the recommendation of the Cycling Federation of India had a contract with the Sports Authority of India. Following the report, SAI terminated the coach’s contract with immediate effect,” the statement added. SAI said a detailed investigation will follow and the committee will submit a final report soon.
Earlier today, SAI informed the Cycling Federation of India (SAI) that it was ending the camp and immediately recalling the entire contingent. India’s endurance contingent, consisting of five males and one female, flew to Slovenia on May 15 for a month-long camp which was due to end on June 14. Sharma will be recalled from Slovenia immediately,” CFI chairman Onkar Singh told PTI. It was learned that SAI also sent a separate missive to train Sharma to return as soon as possible.
The training and competition trip to Slovenia was organized to help the Indian team prepare for the Asian Track Cycling Championships, which will take place in the nation’s capital from June 18-22. The female cyclist had informed the ISC about the inappropriate behavior of the coach during her stay in Slovenia.
The matter had come to light on Monday, June 6, when SAI released a statement saying it had called the cyclist back to ensure her safety.
The complainant alleged that the coach forced her to share a hotel room with him on the pretext that the accommodation had been arranged on a two-bedroom basis. Later, at her request, SAI gave her a separate single room, but the coach did not take her to Germany for an event with the other contingent members for putting up resistance.
The coach threatened the cyclist with destroying her career by having her removed from the National Center of Excellence (NCOE) if she did not sleep with him, according to the complaint. Fearing for her safety, the cyclist then decided to leave the training camp.
However, it transpired that SAI had in fact arranged a separate room for her because she was the only female member of the contingent and did not need to share the room with anyone.
“SAI in its management had previously stated that the athlete in question would be allocated a single room as she was the only female member of the contingent,” a source from SAI said.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had also promised action against the coach if the allegations turn out to be true. The TPI has also formed a four-member committee to investigate the case and pledged full support to the victim. The CFI panel includes General Secretary Maninder Pal Singh, SS Sudeesh Kumar (Chairman, Kerala Cycling), Dipali Nikam (Head Coach, Maharashtra Cycling Team) and Deputy Secretary VN Singh.