India’s Olympic build-up suffered a colossal jolt today as wrestler Narsingh Yadav, who was picked ahead of the celebrated Sushil Kumar, failed a dope test conducted by NADA, virtually ruling him out of the Rio Games next month.
National Anti-Doping Director General Navin Agarwal confirmed that Narsingh’s ‘B’ sample also tested positive for a banned substance and he appeared before a NADA disciplinary panel yesterday. Sources that he had returned positive for methandienone — a banned anabolic steroid.
“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,” the NADA DG told PTI.
“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,” he added.
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.”
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.
Narsingh, who won the 74kg Olympic quota berth with a World Championships bronze last year, was selected for Rio in controversial circumstances after double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar’s demands for a trial were rejected both by the WFI and the Delhi High Court.
Narsingh had to fight a lengthy legal battle with Sushil to get the chance to compete for India at the Olympics.
The Sports Ministry also issued a statement to confirm a failed dope test by a wrestler but desisted from giving out Narsingh’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,” the Ministry said.
“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,” the Ministry stated.
“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.
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.
WFI sources said Narsingh had been discouraged from attending the preparatory camp in Sonepat given the acrimony leading up to his selection in the Olympic team.
Narsingh’s sponsors JSW Sports backed the 26-year-old.
“This is someone playing dirty – we are getting it sorted. he is a biggest hopeful – he is shaken up – sad how in India we can’t even allow our athletes to train in peace,” said JSW Cement MD in a statement.