Narsingh Yadav, India’s contender in wrestling (74kg) at the 2016 Rio Olympics, spoke exclusively to NDTV and said there was a conspiracy against him after he failed a dope test. He tested positive for a banned steroid. His Olympics accreditation has also been withheld.
“This is a conspiracy against me. I am sure the truth will come out,” Narsingh Yadav told NDTV.
Narsingh claimed innocence and said that he had the support of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
“I have never taken any banned substance. I know Indian Olympic Association will support me,” added Narsingh.
In a statement released by him, Narsingh said, “I believe that there is foul play involved in this entire episode. Someone has sabotaged my food supplements and water intake. I take pride in the fact that I have competed in every competition, international and domestic, in an honest, fair and transparent manner and I will continue to do so. I am a responsible athlete with an understanding of the country’s expectations and hopes on me. I would never dream of betraying that hope.”
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) conducted a random dope test on Yadav on July 5 at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) regional centre in Sonepat.
The report of his ‘A’ sample test came out positive. Later, he was called for his ‘B’ sample test, which also returned positive. Sources that he had returned positive for methandienone — a banned anabolic steroid.
NADA Director General Navin Agarwal confirmed that Narsingh’s ‘B’ sample also tested positive and he appeared before a NADA disciplinary panel on Saturday.
“Yes, he (Narsingh) tested positive for a banned steroid. His B sample was also found to be positive. Narsingh was personally present when his B sample was opened,” Agarwal said.
“He appeared before a disciplinary panel yesterday. The panel sought for more reports regarding the matter. We will proceed further and I am hoping that the panel will proceed quickly. Till then we will have to wait.”
Asked if Narsingh will miss the Rio Olympics, Agarwal said, “It is too early to comment in that regard. We will try to complete the whole thing quickly. I cannot speculate on that.”
As a precautionary measure, WFI has stopped Yadav from travelling with the other Rio-bound men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers to Georgia on July 25 for a fortnight-long training-cum-competition programme.
The wrestlers were scheduled to leave for Rio directly from Georgia. It has also been learnt that Yadav’s Rio Olympics accreditation card has also been recalled by WFI from the wrestler as the NADA hearing is on. The wrestler has, however, pleaded innocence.
Narsingh Yadav won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships to win the Olympics quota place in the 74 kg category.
Later, he had to fight a lengthy legal battle with two-time Olympics medallist Sushil Kumar, who also staked his claim to represent the country in 74kg freestyle, to get the chance to compete for India at the Olympics. However, even if Narsingh fails to compete due to doping, Sushil is unlikely to go to Rio as a replacement for injured athletes is allowed but not for dope-tainted athletes.
Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Rajeev Mehta, on the other hand, ruled out the possibility of Sushil benefitting from the episode, saying that the last date for sending Olympic entries, July 18, is well behind them now.
“As far as Sushil Kumar is concerned, I think there is practically no chance for him (to replace Narsingh). Everything is closed as far as entry of athletes is concerned,” he said.
After the controversy broke out, Sushil posted a very cheeky comment on his Twitter account. Though no names were taken, it was almost apparent to whom the tweet was directed.
Sushil’s coach Satpal Singh, however, was still hopeful that his ward may be called to compete in Rio. “If federation requests, we will send Sushil. Doping case at this stage affects team. Narsingh is not a kid, he should have been careful,” he told NDTV.
Sports Ministry’s response
The Sports Ministry also confirmed that a wrestler has failed a dope test even though it desisted from giving out Yadav’s name.
“One wrestler has been detected by National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) as dope positive. An Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel(ADDP) has been constituted by NADA under its rules for hearing the case. Its first hearing was held yesterday in which the wrestler was given an opportunity to defend himself,” it said in a release.
“After the hearing, the panel has asked NADA for some further reports. After these reports are received, the panel would hold further hearing in the matter. ADDP is headed by a legal expert and includes doctors and sportspersons. NADA is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to check doping in sports.
“India is committed to the World Anti-Doping code and follows prescribed procedures. Government does not interfere in the day-to-day functioning of NADA and is committed to total transparency and objectivity in matters relating to doping,” it added.
However, sources close to Narsingh and in the Wrestling Federation of India have cried foul, claiming that the entire episode seems to be a conspiracy.
“It is a sabotage, foul play. Narsingh has a very clean history. it is clearly a conspiracy against him. Decision on the representation in 74kg is to be taken later but in all likelihood there would be no Indian representation in 74kg in Rio. Narsingh has been handed provisional suspension as of now,” WFI sources said.