Wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s Rio Olympics hopes all but ended on Wednesday after the man seen as an able replacement for double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar in Brazil returned a second positive test for banned substances.
There was plenty of drama as the 74kg freestyle wrestler waded through a media scrum to attend a National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) hearing, which will continue on Thursday.
Narsingh’s A and B samples collected on June 25 had shown traces of a banned anabolic steroid. On Wednesday, anti-doping officials said another sample collected on July 5 had tested positive too .
Narsingh faces a four-year ban in accordance with new rules for doping offences. But if the anti-doping agency considers the positive test of July 5 sample as a second doping offence, the 26-year-old could be banned for life.
A final verdict is likely to come on Thursday but the Wrestling Federation of India, which has backed Narsingh’s conspiracy claims, has named Parveen Rana, one of Sushil’s sparring partners and understudy at Chhatrasal Stadium in north Delhi, as his replacement for Rio.
Narsingh continued to maintain that he is the victim of a conspiracy by rivals. He filed a police complaint that his food supplement at the Sports Authority of India’s Sonepat centre, his training base, had been spiked by a wrestler.
A 17-year-old wrestler, Jitesh, has been named in the first information report (FIR) registered on Wednesday afternoon.
It is seen as pointing a finger at Sushil as Jitesh is also from Chhatrasal, though the Olympic medallist’s camp has vehemently denied having anything to do with Narsingh’s positive test.
“We suspect Jitesh, who fights in the 75kg category, and Sumit, both of them live in Chhatrasal. And one of them has admitted to spiking Narsingh’s food. I can’t comment on the conspiracy and can’t say whether they did this on their own or at someone’s bidding,” wrestling federation president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said.
“We cannot investigate this, but we support Narsingh’s demand for a CBI inquiry.”
Earlier in the day, sports minister Vijay Goel called for the anti-doping process to be respected.
“Nada also works under the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Narsingh was found positive after a test conducted by Nada and he is provisionally suspended … But I don’t think it (Narsingh going to Rio) is a debatable issue because whatever the reason of doping, not only us but the whole world is also watching, and I think it will be extremely difficult for him to go to Rio,” he said.
He urged an end to the conspiracy claims. “There is no proof of these rumours and I want all these suspicions of foul play to stop. Our anti-doping agency will give a final report within a few days. We have also tested his food supplement.”
India’s wrestling squad is training in Georgia and will travel to Brazil directly.