The last time Narsingh Yadav stepped inside the National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADA) decaying building, it was all hushed up. It was the first disciplinary panel hearing held on July 23 in his failed dope test case but the result was still kept a secret. So Narsingh could whisk in and out of the office without anyone knowing about it.
But it was all very different on Wednesday. Such was the pandemonium when Narsingh arrived with his battery of lawyers that he could not even step out of his car until the policemen made a human chain to seperate him from the 100-odd supporters of the Mumbai-based wrestler who swarmed the compound just before the second hearing began. They shouted slogans backing their pehelwan and demanded CBI enquiry into the scandal that has shaken the foundations of Indian wrestling.
Amidst all the histrionics, the hearing behind closed doors began with Narsingh submitting a 600-page affidavit to the panel. During the three-and-a-half hour hearing, Narsingh’s team produced circumstantial evidences to support their version of events that eventually led to the 26-year-old failing a dope test. Narsingh tested positive for banned substance metadienone during a test conducted by NADA on June 25 and has been provisionally suspended. The wrestler has alleged foul play and accused a fellow wrestler, a coach and a Sports Authority of India administrator of conspiring against him.
On Tuesday, Narsingh identified a 17-year-old wrestler who he believes tried to add an unknown substance to his food on June 5 and also filed a police complaint against the teenager. The Haryana police registered an FIR in the case on Wednesday.
Narsingh’s lawyers highlighted these issues in front of the three-member panel during their hearing. On Thursday, NADA will submit their arguments before the panel arrives at a decision. “We have put forward Narsingh’s argument. We have full faith in the NADA panel. We are trying to convince them. We are hopeful he will be exonerated. NADA panel is helpful. We have presented our argument today and panel was very patient and we had a very fair hearing. NADA will present their case tomorrow,” Narsingh’s lawyer Vidushpat Singhania.
Mustafa Ghouse, MD of JSW Sports who are Narsingh’s promoters, said they are ‘very confident. “The decision will hopefully be taken tomorrow. We are very confident. There will be another discussion tomorrow,” Ghouse said.
With Narsingh’s chances of making it to the Rio Olympics fading with every passing day, his team seems more focussed on clearing his name and restoring his reputation. On Wednesday, the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha by Congress MP Pramod Tiwari while Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis too urged sports minister Vijay Goel to look into the case.
Goel, however, said that doors are almost shut for Narsingh and it is time for the conspiracy theories to stop. “All these conspiracy theories which are floating, unless all these things come to our notice, we can’t do any investigation or take any step regarding that,” he said. “But I don’t think it is a debatable issue because whatever be the reason of doping, not only us but the whole world is also watching it and I think it will be extremely difficult for him to go to Rio. There is no proof of these rumours and I want all these suspicions of foul play to stop and our anti-doping agency will give a final report within a few days and we have also tested his food supplement.”
It is learnt that Narsingh’s name does not feature in the final list sent by the United World Wrestling to the International Olympic Committee.
Instead of him, Praveen Rana will represent India in the 74kg category. Rana is already in Georgia with rest of the Rio-bound team, preparing for the Olympics.