Coach fired for refusing online classes

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Cook’s refusal to coordinate with SAI’s online classes on the grounds that his dues weren’t cleared since March expedited the matter.

other-sports Updated: Jun 26, 2020 10:17 IST

Women wrestler practice at Sonipat Women wrestler practice at Sonipat (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has terminated the contract of the national women’s wrestling coach Andrew Cook for refusing to participate in the online classes conducted by Sports Authority of India (SAI), said WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar. Cook, who was on SAI’s payroll, had joined in early 2019 to prepare the national team for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. He left for his home in the US in March when the national camp in Lucknow was called off due to the coronavirus outbreak.

WFI was contemplating terminating Cook’s services for some time after the pandemic put a question mark on the future of the national camp. Cook was paid a monthly salary of R3 lakh. Cook’s refusal to coordinate with SAI’s online classes on the grounds that his dues weren’t cleared since March expedited the matter. “In this time of economic meltdown due to global pandemic we couldn’t justify his salary as he wasn’t regular in attending online classes run by SAI,” the WFI has said in a statement. Tomar said Cook’s dues till May have been cleared. Cook didn’t respond to messages.

Last October, the WFI had terminated men’s freestyle wrestling coach Hossein Karimi just six months after the Iranian joined, saying he wasn’t able to adjust. It is understood that the WFI has been spending close to R 14.5 lakh on foreign experts. One of them is Georgian Shako Bentinidis, Bajrang Punia’s personal coach, who gets approximately R 4 lakh per month. Punia is one of the elite wrestlers who have qualified for Olympics in 65kg freestyle event in the 2019 cycle. “Since there is no camp and Shako has gone home. We paid him 70% of his salary for three months-March to May,” said Tomar. “In future there will be more cuts as Punia is training all alone. We plan to negotiate with all the foreign coaches and chalk out new contracts.”

WFI had also hired Russian Malikov Kamal for Ravi Dahiya (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg), both of whom have qualified for Olympics. Kamal too has gone home. Tomar said they are not thinking too far ahead since there is no international competition and the national camp may not start till September or October. “If he is willing to join we can hire him again,” he said.

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