Narsingh doping episode has no adverse effects on wrestling in Mumbai
The city's most illustrious wrestling son, Narsingh Yadav, may have been embroiled in a doping scandal, but at the mud akhada of the Sarvajanik Vyayamshala in Jogeshwari and the Sports Authority of India's wrestling mat in Kandivali, it was business as usual on Thursday -- five days after the 26-year-old tested positive for metadienone.
"Their parents have sent them here to become the next Narsingh," says Bharat Yadav, pointing to a bunch of five kids barely into their teens, who are grappling on the cramped mud akhada of Sarvajanik Vyayamshala, where Narsingh took his first steps in the sport.
Most of the 25-odd wrestlers who come to train at the akhada are from the same Yadav Nagar slums where Narsingh grew up in.
Just like the match fixing scandal in cricket had affected interest at the grassroots, one would expect the positive dope test of the city's biggest role model in wrestling to have an adverse effect on the ground. However, the feeling that the 74kg wrestler is being framed is widespread in wrestling circles in the city.
"Ab baat uske sammaan ki hai (Now the question is about his hounour)," adds Bharat, talking about Narsingh's battle from here on. Narsingh's camp has been rather optimistic of getting a clean chit from NADA.
At SAI's sprawling Kandivali centre, coaches do not foresee the Narsingh episode to have any adverse effect. Among the wrestlers who train here, 25-odd are part of the pay-and-play scheme.
"The wrestlers who know Narsingh and Sandeep (Tulsi Yadav, who has also tested positive for the same drug) well were disheartened for the first couple of days. But now they have gotten back to training with the same vigour as before. I don't see the episode having any effect on the centre's wrestling activities," said Ajay Singh, a wrestling coach at the centre.