The deposition of two cooks who work at the kitchen of the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) regional centre in Sonepat, a letter from the Wrestling Federation of India confirming that the cadet wrestler, accused of attempting to contaminate food, was part of the national camp and was present at the venue where Narsingh Yadav trains, the letter from a SAI official stating there was a threat to the wrestler’s life if he remained at Sonepat and an emotional plea from the wrestler himself helped convincing the hearing panel that the positive doping test was a result of a sabotage by a rival.
Over Wednesday and Thursday, the hearing panel first heard Narsingh’s side of the story and subsequently asked the NADA’s legal team to present their case. At the conclusion of the hearing on Thursday, the NADA lawyer Gaurang Kanth had 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.”
However, it is learnt that the two witnesses, read cooks, deposed before the NADA panel on Friday, though the hearing was officially completed on Thursday. The cooks were brought from Sonepat to Delhi and presented their version of event in front the panel members.
Narsingh’s team also highlighted the fact that a certain official in the Wrestling Federation of India was also trying to put a spoke in the wheel of Narsingh’s Rio Olympic dreams.
The false affidavit of Wrestling Federation of India vice president Raj Singh that before the Atlanta Olympics, he as the head coach had conducted trials in the 48 kilogram class in Greco Roman, and the subsequent perjury proceeding against the official was also highlighted by Narsingh’s legal team. The false affidavit was part of the plea moved by Sushil Kumar for trails to be held for the 74 kilogram category after the Wrestling Federation of India had decided against it and chose Narsingh to represent India at the Games.
By highlighting the perjury proceedings, Narsingh’s legal team wanted to drive home the fact that there were also top officials in the WFI who were trying to scuttle Narsingh’s hopes of going to the Rio Games.
The testimony of the cooks who claimed they had seen the cadet wrestler attempting to contaminate food being prepared at the canteen of the SAI centre added strength to the theory of contamination put forward by the wrestler. Narsingh had also alleged that his water could have been spiked on June 23 and 24 when he was training. The fact that the alleged contamination took place at the SAI Centre, which was a secure location, was also put forward to build the case that Narsingh was not negligent.
It is learnt that when the NADA panel asked him why he did not ensure that there was no possibility of his water being spiked while he was training, Narsingh said that if he was expected to guard his water in a ‘secure environment’ then how was he expected to train for the Olympics.
Narsingh’s lawyer Vidushpat Singhania said, “The NADA panel accepted the argument that Narsingh’s amino drink was spiked during his practice sessions on June 23 and 24 at the SAI Sonepat. The panel accepted that it was not possible for an athlete to keep a watch on his drinks while he is practicing.”
Another factor that the legal team drew the panel’s attention to was the fact that the test results of samples collected on July 5 compared to the earlier samples of June 25 – both tests were positive – showed that the concentration of the anabolic steroid was reducing.
“We highlighted the reduced concentration of steroid to show that the substance was ingested just once, which meant that Narsingh was not a cheat or a habitual offender and the positive test results were a result of sabotage,”Singhania added.
Narsingh faced a four-year ban for a first time doping offence but article 10.4 of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code provides for ‘elimination of ineligibility where an athlete can prove that despite all due care he or she was sabotaged by a competitor’