India’s Olympic buildup was dealt a huge blow on Sunday as wrestler Narsingh Yadav, who was selected ahead of the celebrated Sushil Kumar, failed a dope test but insisted that the scandal that has jeopardised his Olympic participation is a conspiracy against him.
National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) Director General Navin Agarwal said Narsingh had tested positive for a banned substance and he appeared before a NADA disciplinary panel on Saturday. Sources said he had tested positive for methandienone — a banned anabolic steroid.
“Yes, he (Narsingh) tested positive for a banned steroid. His B sample was also found to be positive. Narsingh was personally present when his B sample was opened,” the NADA DG told PTI.
“He appeared before a disciplinary panel on Saturday. The panel sought for more reports regarding the matter. We will proceed further and I am hoping that the panel will proceed quickly. Till then we will have to wait,” he added.
Asked if Narsingh will miss the Rio Olympics, Agarwal said, “It is too early to comment in that regard. We will try to complete the whole thing quickly. I cannot speculate on that.”
Narsingh, on his part, claimed innocence, saying that the scandal was a conspiracy against him. His coach and support staff also backed Narsingh, saying they suspect that his food might have been contaminated.
“This is a conspiracy against me. I have never taken any banned substance,” said Narsingh.
Sources in the Wrestling Federation of India also cried foul, claiming that the entire episode seems to be an attempt at sabotaging the wrestler.
“It is foul play. Narsingh has a very clean history. it is clearly a conspiracy against him. A decision on the representation in 74kg is to be taken later but in all likelihood there would be no Indian representation in 74kg in Rio. Narsingh has been handed provisional suspension as of now,” WFI sources said.
Narsingh, who won the 74kg Olympic quota berth with a World Championships bronze medal last year, was selected for Rio in controversial circumstances after double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar’s demands for a trial were rejected both by the WFI and the Delhi High Court.
Sushil, who is yet to make a formal statement on the matter, put out a cryptic tweet after the controversy broke out.
“Respect is to be earned not demanded,” Sushil, a former world champion tweeted without specifying to whom or what exactly was he referring to.
Narsingh, a former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, had to fight a lengthy legal battle with Sushil to get the chance to compete for India at the Olympics.