There is an irony in the fact that a failed dope test will keep Narsingh Yadav from competing in Rio this year.
The wrestler did not qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but his selection came through courtesy Sumit Sehrawat, who failed a dope test. Narsingh considered that moment a turning point in his life, as he went on to win gold in Delhi that year.
It was a dope test that propelled his career, and it may be another dope test that may bring it down.
Ever since Narsingh hit the headlines six years ago, Bharat Yadav has been beseeched by parents to transform their children into another Narsingh - a champion wrestler. For the humble mud akhada of the Sarvajanik Vyayamshala, owned by Bharat, is where the 26-year-old took his first steps in the sport.
However, the news of Narsingh failing a dope test hit Mumbai’s wrestling circles like a bombshell.
A security guard at Narsingh’s house in Jogeshwari, a western suburb of Mumbai close to Andheri, kept everyone at bay while the wrestlers of the Sports Authority of India’s Kandivli campus were nowhere to be seen.
Bharat’s thoughts, meanwhile, wander between the past and present. He reminisces how regional newspapers until yesterday ran banner headlines with full-page spreads for Narsingh, but today news channels are calling his most famous ward a dope cheat.
“This is a conspiracy against Narsingh. There is no way he has taken any banned substance. He is being framed. Narsingh is an incredibly talented and hardworking athlete. He is a clean wrestler,” Bharat said on Sunday.
Bharat had told HT in mid-May that he was certain “they will try everything to prevent Narsingh from going to Rio”.
Nada’s revelations on Sunday only seem to have affirmed his worst fears. “I can only imagine what that boy must be going through,” he said, adding that for the past few months, Narsingh’s family had been inundated with marriage proposals for the wrestler.
“He has been swatting these requests away saying marriage can wait. He only wants to focus on the upcoming Rio games. Everything else will come later,” Bharat said.
Alas, his Olympics dreams were not to be.