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World Squash Federation leader defends position amid PSA criticism

World Squash Federation (WSF) president N Ramachandran has defended his position after the Professional Squash Association (PSA) criticised his leadership amid the sport’s repeated failed efforts to secure Olympic status.

The PSA governs squash’s men’s and women’s professional world tours and its chief executive Alex Gough confirmed to the Press Trust of India news agency that a 17-point document prepared by the organisation with some national federations was produced at the WSF AGM in Nice last week, blaming the world governing body for the failed Olympic bids.

The PSA document, reported by PTI, read: “President Ramachandran's (pictured) grip on the WSF has tightened, seemingly to an unprecedented degree. This has occurred simultaneously with the escalation of his well-publicised troubles as the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and inherent conflicts of interest, motions for Ramachandran's ouster as the leader of the IOA at a Special General Meeting, and a judgement against Ramachandran by the Indian courts stripping him of a 2011 award on the grounds that he did not meet any of the criteria necessary for the recognition.

“Even if viewed in the best light with no presumption of misconduct, his present circumstances must be viewed at a minimum as a serious distraction from his role of representing the sport of squash, and certainly as an embarrassment to the sport during this important time.”

Ramachandran last month said he would seek an explanation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the process behind the selection of potential additional sports for the 2020 Olympic Games, adding that he found September’s decision “difficult to understand”.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has proposed baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing as additional sports for its staging of the Olympic Games. The decision meant that bowling, squash and wushu failed to make the cut from the shortlist of eight international federations unveiled in June. These eight had initially been narrowed down from 26 applications for Tokyo 2020.

Squash has fought a long-running battle for Olympic inclusion and the PSA report criticised the WSF for not doing enough in the campaign. The report added: “During the last several decades, despite an increasingly successful professional tour and having made enormous strides in both broadcasting and presentation, squash has peaked in participation and public interest, and has been unsuccessful on several occasions in gaining entry as a sport into the Olympic Games.”

Ramachandran has confirmed these issues were aired at the WSF AGM, but has defended his actions and those of the federation. “On a general level, while my leadership style and these other matters have been brought up at the AGM I will simply reaffirm that I and my board have done and shall continue to do nothing but our best for squash,” he said. “However, I must emphasise that I recognise the criticisms and will do my best to respond to their intent and the wishes of members in the short time that remains for my presidency.”

Ramachandran’s current term as WSF president ends next year.