Updated: July 29, 2016 8:30:51 am
Wrestler Narsingh Yadav will know on Saturday or Monday what his period of ineligibility will be – maximum of four years for a first-time offence – after the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) disciplinary panel concluded the two-day hearing on Thursday.
Narsingh’s chances of being exonerated after testing positive for anabolic steroid Metadienone largely hinged on him being able to prove beyond doubt that he was sabotaged by a rival. However, it is learnt that he could not provide sufficient evidence to back his declaration in his affidavit – that there was an attempt by a wrestler to contaminate his food on June 5 at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonepat. He has also stated that there was a possibility of the same wrestler spiking his water during one of the four practice sessions he undertook on June 23 and June 24 after returning from a training stint in Bulgaria.
Going into the hearing, it was vital for Narsingh to establish that he was not at fault for the doping violation and nor was he negligent. He also had to establish that despite all due care, he was sabotaged by a competitor.
Narsingh’s argument put forth by his lawyers was that on June 5, a fellow wrestler attempted to contaminate the food at SAI’s Sonepat Centre. However, it was only on Wednesday that Narsingh submitted a written complaint at the Rai police station about the wrestler contaminating the food.
The NADA’s legal team raised questions over why the complaint of contaminating food was made against the wrestler three weeks after the alleged incident. Narsingh explained that the delay to file a police complaint occurred because he knew of the incident only after returning from Bulgaria. Narsingh’s other contention that his water was spiked on either one of the two days, June 23 and June 24, put the wrestler on a weaker footing because he was trying to establish that he bears no fault or negligence. But in such a scenario there, were four possible instances of him being careless or negligent – during morning and evening training sessions on both days.
Narsingh’s arguments were that when he was training – in the morning and evening – at the Sonepat centre his water was contaminated with the drug by someone, presumably the 17-year-old cadet wrestler from Chhatrasal stadium who had also attempted to spike the food in the canteen.
When asked by NADA lawyers as to why he had been careless on more than one occasion about the source of the water he consumed, Narsingh could not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his drink had been spiked. The alleged contamination of the water occurred a day after the wrestling squad, including Narsingh returned from Bulgaria after a training stint.
NADA’s lawyer Gaurang Kanth said, “We opposed his contention that he was not negligent and had not committed mistake in not taking due care as an athlete. We said as an international athlete he should have taken due care about his food and drinks. From what he had produced before the panel there was nothing to prove due care on his part.”
Kanth also said NADA had argued that there was no basis for suspension of his period of ineligibility because he failed to establish how the banned substance had entered his body and nor could he provide relevant circumstantial evidence that his dope violation was a result of sabotage by a rival.
“The argument put forth by NADA is that he is not eligible for remission because they have to show that he has no fault and negligence as far as contamination is concerned and they have to lead evidence to the extent that all these have been done without his knowledge,” Kanth added.
Narsingh was tested on June 2 at the SAI’s Sonepat centre. In this particular test Narsingh was clean. On June 25, his blood and urine samples were collected by NADA officials but anabolic steroid metadienone was detected in the urine. It was following this positive test that Narsingh was provisionally suspended on July 16 and the Wrestling Federation of India and the athlete were informed about the same immediately. A third test was conducted on July 5, which also returned a positive test.
Pandemonium prevailed at the NADA office for the second day with over a hundred supporters of the wrestler arriving and shouting slogans backing him. Narsingh had to be escorted in and out of the NADA office by police personnel but on a day that the hearing ended Narsingh sported a smile.
“I have put forward my side of the story in front of the panel. Now I will have to wait for the panel’s decision. I am hopeful that the panel will give a right decision,” Narsingh said. He has been training even after moving to Delhi to attend the hearings. “I am continuing with my practice and am still hopeful that I will be able to go to Rio,” he said.
And while Praveen Rana has been named in the roaster in Narsingh’s category for the Rio Olympics, Narsingh will know over the next few days for how long he will be sanctioned for the doping violation.
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