Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the Union Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), days after a female cyclist was accused the head cycling coach of “inappropriate behavior” during a training camp in Slovenia, according to a statement on Friday. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which learned suo motu of the case, requested a detailed report from the Secretary of the Ministry and the Director General of the SAI.
“It is strange to know that instead of curbing the trainer, the Sports Authority of India would have chosen to bring the victim back to India, thus depriving him of the overseas training for which he had been selected,” said the rights panel said in the statement.
He stated that the victim’s right to dignity was deemed to have been violated, given that a coach and an athlete have a fiduciary relationship, where a coach rests with the trust necessary to look after the well-being and athlete’s well-being.
The commission observed that the case, if true, amounts to a violation of the human rights of the athlete victim.
According to SAI, the complainant was immediately brought back to India halfway through her training to ensure her safety. The ISC prima facie concluded that the allegation was true, he said.
The commission sought to know the physical and mental state of the victim, as well as the measures, if any, taken against the responsible officer, including the trainer concerned, within four weeks. The committee would also like to know if any specialist advice has been provided to it by the authorities, she added.
The SAI had terminated the contract of the head cycling coach on Wednesday after a preliminary investigation found him guilty of “inappropriate behaviour” with the female cyclist during the training camp in Slovenia.
The SAI had 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 victim, who reportedly feared for her life due to the alleged harassment and demanded to return home, has already been flown back to the country, with her safety in mind.
In issuing the notices, the NHRC further observed that the Indian government is earnestly focusing on the optimal participation of women in all fields including sports, art and culture. Various guidelines have been issued to ensure the safety and security of sports women during their training and sports activities.
The commission is also of the opinion that if the allegations mentioned in the report are true and no action is taken by the authorities with regard to such incidents, other female sportswomen will not only feel in danger, but will be reluctant to press charges against the perpetrators. in the future, lest they also be recalled halfway through their training, he said.
The subject also falls under the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Act 2013, which categorically defines in its Section 2(o)(iv) that the workplace includes any sports institute , stadium, sports complex or venue for competition or games, whether residential or not used for training, sport or other related activities. The ISC is therefore also obliged to investigate the matter in accordance with the provisions of the law, he added.
According to media reports, the female victim was part of the Indian team which was in Slovenia to prepare for the Asian Championship, which is to be held in New Delhi from June 18 to 22.
“Apparently, the coach tried to forcefully pull her to him and asked her to come sleep with him and threatened to destroy her career if she didn’t comply with his demands,” the statement read.
Apparently, when the victim could not tolerate the advances and explicit sexual overtones made by the coach, she spoke to the CEO of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS, who booked her return ticket for June 3, 2022. The victim mentioned in her complaint that the coach destroyed her mentally and emotionally, which is now impacting her sports performance.
She would have demanded the strictest possible action against the coach and not only to ensure her safety but also that of all others, especially female athletes, the statement said.