The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) accepted the World Anti Doping Agency’s (WADA) appeal on Thursday and sanctioned a four-year ban on wrestler Narsingh Yadav who had earlier tested positive for steroids.
The ban will be accounted for from August 18, meaning he would not compete in the Rio Olympics. The CAS also ruled to disqualify all the competitive results obtained by Narsingh from June 25, 2016.
Narsingh was scheduled to start his Olympic campaign against Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France in the qualification round of the men’s 74 kg freestyle category on Friday. The 26-year-old grappler had also underwent his weigh-in on Thursday even as the hearing was on.
Narsingh, who had tested positive for an anabolic steroid -- methandienone -- was earlier given a reprieve by India’s National Anti Doping Agency (NADA), which accepted his claim of sabotage. However, the World Anti Doping Agency, which has been strict on enforcing the rules since the Richard McLaren report revealed widespread doping cover-up in Russia, appealed against the decision to CAS, the highest tribunal in sports.
“WADA filed an urgent application before the CAS ad hoc Division to challenge the decision of NADA India to exonerate Narsingh Yadav following two positive anti-doping tests with methandienone on 25 June and 5 July 2016. The athlete asserted that he was the victim of sabotage (food/drink tampering) by another person. WADA requested that a 4-year period of ineligibility be imposed on the athlete,” the CAS said in a statement.
“The CAS Panel in charge of this matter heard the parties and their representatives today (Wednesday) between 13:00 and 17:00. At 18:45 today, the parties were informed that the application was upheld, that Narsingh Yadav was sanctioned with a four-year ineligibility period starting today and that any period of provisional suspension or ineligibility effectively served by the athlete before the entry into force of this award shall be credited against the total period of ineligibility to be served. Furthermore, all competitive results obtained by Narsingh Yadav from and including 25 June 2016 shall be disqualified, with all resulting consequences (including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes).”
The CAS panel further stated that there was no evidence to accept Narsingh’s claim that his food/drink was spiked.
“The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the 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 4-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel,” the statement said.
The CAS panel’s rejection of sabotage theory is a major blow for India’s anti doping agency as well. The NADA panel which gave Narsingh the clean chit on August 1 then said: “The ingestion of the prohibitive substance, in this case methandienone, appeared to be one time. …the panel concludes that the athlete deserves the benefit of Article 10.4 of the anti-doping rules of NADA 2015.”
India’s Rio Olympics chef de mission, Rakesh Gupta, said Narsingh will now return to India. “We were hopeful after the first hearing, but CAS has upheld WADA’s appeal and now Narsingh will go back instead of participating,” Gupta said.
“It is very sad and unfortunate. We were hopeful until the last proceeding of the CAS that he will get through which unfortunately did not happen,” Gupta was quoted as saying by the IANS. “It is really very sad because he had a real potential to clinch a medal.”