RIO DE JANEIRO: It was just the perfect day for India at the Games here on Thursday. The hangover of Sakshi Malik’s bronze was still there when PV Sidhu smashed her way into the women’s badminton final in the morning.
It couldn’t get better. Around midnight India time, news came in that the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had appreciated India’s presentation of wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s case and that he would get to play on Friday morning.
Late in the evening, around 8.30pm here, a call changed all that. The CAS body had set aside the decision of the Indian anti-doping body, NADA, and slapped a four-year ban on Yadav. Yadav was to compete on Friday morning in the 74kg category ere and his name even figured in the draw after he cleared his medical and weigh-in on Thursday.
After this ban now, Yadav will be forced to vacate his room on the Games Village on Friday morning. The Indian delegation will try to put him up in a safe place, away from the prying eyes of the Indian media.
“The CAS panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was 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 four-year period of ineligibility was imposed on the by the panel,” an official release of CAS said.
Yadav’s suspension begins immediately.
Indian contingent’s chef-de-mission Rakesh Gupta was at a loss of words when asked about this ban. “It is so unfortunate. After getting the clearance from NADA, we had written to the world wrestling body, the International Olympic Committee and also the Organising Committee of the Rio Games. They had accepted Narsingh’s entry and that is the reason he travelled with us,” Gupta told TOI just minutes after the CAS decision came on Thursday night.
“When we were assured that everything was fine, then we suddenly got a letter from world anti-doping body WADA three days back that it had appealed against Narsingh’s entry in the Rio Games. We asked for time but they gave us 48 hours. We tried to present our case and were confident but have got this shocking news now.
“Narsingh will be a shattered man today. His career has been ruined. It is so unfortunate,” he added.
So what are the officials planning now? “He will have to be shifted out of the Village tomorrow (Friday) morning. Then we will make arrangements to send him home.”
Narsingh Yadav’s urine sample had tested positive for steroid methandienone on June 25 and July 5. He had alleged that he was victim of sabotage and that his food/supplement or urine had been tampered with.
After an enquiry, Nada found him not guilty and cleared him for Rio.
Narsingh Yadav’s ban has raised some vital questions.
– Even if the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh believed that Yadav was innocent, like many others, why did NADA give Yadav a clean chit without concrete evidence?
– Where was the proof that his sample, food or supplements had been tampered with?
– Was there pressure from the government officials to clear Yadav’s name? Incidentally, the WFI president is a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP in Lok Sabha and a seasoned politician.
– Despite knowing about the strict rules of WADA, why did the Indian Olympic Association take the risk of getting Yadav here, exposing him to an arbitration and finally humiliation for him and the country?
– When WADA went into appeal at CAS, why didn’t IOA pull Yadav out and ask for time to strengthen Narsingh’s case?
– Did everyone get carried about by the Sushil Kumar-Narsingh Yadav controversy and believed the latter’s sabotage theory?