Rio de Janeiro: Taking up cudgels on behalf of wrestler Narsingh Yadav after CAS overturned the clean chit given to him by the National Anti-Doping Agency, the Indian Olympic Association blamed unnamed compatriots for his ouster from the Olympics and the four-year ban slapped on him.
“It’s not just a loss for Narsingh at the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports) but he was beaten by his compatriots who did not want to let him compete at the Olympics and not by his opponents,” IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta told PTI after the verdict of the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sports here.
Mehta was part of the four-hour-long hearing here and the verdict marked a painful end to the sordid controversy which began with the wrestler failing a June 25 test.
“…The parties were informed that the application was upheld, that 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,” CAS said in a statement after the hearing.
“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). 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,” it added.
“WADA filed an urgent application before the CAS ad hoc Division to challenge the decision of NADA India to exonerate Narsingh Yadav following two positive anti-doping tests with methandienone on 25 June and 5 July 2016. The athlete asserted that he was the victim of sabotage (food/drink tampering) by another person. WADA requested that a 4-year period of ineligibility be imposed on the athlete,” the CAS noted.
The 27-year-old’s name had appeared in the official Olympic schedule after he underwent the mandatory weigh-in. He was to take on France’s Zelimkhan Khadjiev in qualification round later today but the CAS verdict has dashed all his hopes.
The embattled 74kg category grappler has maintained all along that his scandalous dope test back home in the run-up to the Games was a result of conspiracy by rivals who spiked his food or drinks.
“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 the wrestler through a statement.
“My dream of competing and winning the country a medal at the Rio Olympics has been cruelly snatched away from me twelve hours before my first bout, but I will do everything it takes to prove my innocence. It is all I have left to fight for,” he added.
Narsingh’s fortunes took a turn for the worse when he was ousted from the Olympics and slapped with a four-year ban for flunking a dope test after CAS reversed the all clear given to him by the NADA to participate in the Games after it was challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency on August 13.
“The picture is clear and neither I nor anyone has to say who’s done the foul play. If you go back, you can easily connect the dots and would clearly know who could be the suspect,” said IOA’s Mehta, further backing the shamed grappler.
“As of now, the culprits have been successful in stopping him from the Olympics, though we may challenge the order and minimise the ban. It’s a loss for the country,” he added.
Hinting at a conspiracy theory, Mehta added, “We must go deep into the matter and the government should initiate a CBI inquiry into the matter. It’s not a small thing, it’s plaguing our country’s sport and we must nip this in the bud.
“Days after he won the battle at the Delhi High Court, a phone call came from his SAI centre in Sonepat about some doping activities, the raid happened and his sample was found positive. It cannot be sheer coincidence.”
WADA appealed against NADA’s all-clear to Narsingh at CAS, three days ahead of his scheduled opening bout at the Olympics which was today.
Having grabbed the quota by virtue of his World Championships bronze in Las Vegas last year, Narsingh’s road to Rio was fraught with obstacles after he was named to represent India ahead of double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar.
Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar dragged Narsingh to the Delhi High Court and a bitter courtroom tussle followed but the judgment 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 NADA.
Narsingh’s roommate at the SAI centre in Sonepat also tested positive for the same substance but 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 NADA’s decision and moved the CAS which ruled against the wrestler and also slapped the career-threatening ban.