Narsingh Yadav, India’s 74kg wrestler who was trapped in doping net, has been banned for four years and will not be able to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He failed to get a clearance from Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Rio de Janeiro.
“The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the victim of sabotage and noted that there was no evidence that he bore no fault, nor that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional. Therefore the standard 4-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel,” said CAS in its verdict.
“Narsingh Yadav was sanctioned with a four-year ineligibility period starting today and that any period of provisional suspension or ineligibility effectively served by the athlete before the entry into force of this award shall be credited against the total period of ineligibility to be served,” it added.
“Furthermore, all competitive results obtained by Narsingh Yadav from and including 25 June 2016 shall be disqualified, with all resulting consequences (including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes).”
‘Devastated by decision’
Narsingh was devastated by the decision, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Wrestling Federation of India president, told NDTV. He said Narsingh was the victim of a conspiracy.
“This is an unfortunate decision. We didn’t have time to get our lawyers here. He (Vidushpat Singhania) joined through video conferencing. Narsingh will have to leave the athletes Village tomorrow,” Singh said.
“Narsingh not in a state to speak now. This is conspiracy against him, and a sabotage. There is a nexus going on in India which has to be stopped. We will have to return to India and explore legal options. We demand a CBI enquiry into the case so that no athlete has to go through this in the future.”
The grappler said that he was devastated by the decision to ban him for a period of four years.
“To say I am devastated at the decision of CAS would be putting it mildly. I have gone through so much over the last two months off the mat but the thought of fighting for the glory of the nation at the Games had kept me going,” said Narsingh in a statement.
“My dream of competing and winning the country a medal at the Rio Games has been cruelly snatched away from me 12 hours before my first fight, but I will do everything it takes to prove my innocence. It is all I have left to fight for.”
Narsingh had earlier got clearance from National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) despite testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid. NADA’s logic was that he intentionally did not take the banned substance, during his stay at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre, Sonepat.
However, the decision was challenged by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as they appealed against it in CAS.
Indian Chef de Mission Rakesh Gupta said the whole affair was unfortunate.
“It is very sad and unfortunate. We were hopeful until the last proceeding of the CAS that he will get through which unfortunately did not happen,” Gupta said.
“It is really very sad because he had a real potential to clinch a medal.”
In the hearing on Thursday, WADA argued that Narsingh should have been banned after failing the dope test. They also rejected the theory that his food was spiked at the SAI centre. WADA said it was impossible to spike a player’s food despite CCTV and high security at the SAI centre in Sonepat.
However, Narsingh’s name earlier appeared in the official schedule released on Friday after he underwent the regular weigh-in. He was scheduled to take on France’s Zelimkhan Khadjiev in the qualification round. But that would not happen now.
The embattled 74kg category grappler has maintained that his scandalous dope test was a result of conspiracy by rivals who spiked his food or drinks.
Having grabbed the quota by virtue of his bronze in Las Vegas 2015, Narsingh’s road to Rio was fraught with obstacles after he was named to represent India ahead of double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar.
Sushil dragged Narsingh to Delhi High Court and a bitter courtroom tussle followed but the judgement went in latter’s favour.
There was more drama in store for the Asian Games bronze-medallist after he returned positive for a banned steroid following a dope test in June by the NADA.
Narsingh’s roommate at the SAI centre in Sonipat also tested positive for the same substance but Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) backed the Mumbai-based wrestler’s claims of a foul-play.
Days before the Olympics, Narsingh was cleared of doping charges by the NADA who said the wrestler was indeed a victim of ‘sabotage’ and deserved the benefit of doubt.
However, his hopes were dealt a massive blow when WADA challenged the NADA’s decision and moved the CAS amid speculation that the wrestler may face a ban up to four years.
Other dope bans
Yavdav was the fourth athlete to be kicked out of the Games on Thursday for failing a dope test.
Brazilian cyclist Kleber Ramos and Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi were disqualified for the banned blood booster EPO Cera and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide respectively.
Kyrgyzstani weightlifter Izzat Artykov, who won bronze in the men’s under-69kg category, was banned after testing positive for strychnine, a stimulant.