Refusing to budge from its stand, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday floated a new theory, alleging that some junior officials of SAI and NADA are responsible for Narsingh Yadav being handed a four-year ban for doping.
Narsingh was debarred from representing India at the Rio Games in 74kg freestyle wrestling event after he was slapped with a four-year ban by Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for flunking a dope test following WADA’s challenge to the clean chit given to him by National Anti-Doping Agency.
WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said, “We got to know some things there (at Rio de Janeiro) during the CAS hearing. When world body (WADA) had asked NADA why dope tests were conducted on Narsingh in such short span of time, NADA had revealed that on July 4, a written complaint was sent to them by a junior SAI Sonepat official (Ramesh) that some drug abuse was going on in the centre.
“On the basis of that complain, the dope tests were conducted again. The people who had spiked his food/drinks were not sure whether it was done properly (on June 23 & 24) before the first test on June 25, so they did it again before sending the complain letter to NADA team on July 4 for conducting another test,” Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
Narsingh’s urine sample taken out-of-competition on 25 June was found to contain metabolites of methandienone and long- term metabolite of methandienone. Another sample taken out-of competition on 5 July was also found to contain long-term metabolites of methandienone.
Singh alleged that some junior level officials of NADA were also involved. “The WFI was not told about that complaint letter earlier. Although the letter was supposed to be sent to WFI, it was withheld. If we had that letter with us in Rio, our case would have been stronger,” said Singh.
“Even NADA never told us about the letter. I am sure, junior level officials of NADA are also involved,” he added.
Singh reiterated that he would approach the Prime Minister and the Home Ministry and demand for a CBI probe. “I will meet both the Home Ministry and the Prime Minister. It is extremely important to have a CBI inquiry into the matter. And I guarantee that investigations would be carried out. Those who are guilty must be punished. In fact, if Narsingh is found guilty then he should be severely punished. I am again saying that it was a conspiracy,” he insisted.
During the hearing in Rio, CAS had said that Narsingh failed to produce any “real evidence” regarding the sabotage theory he had advanced and the “balance of probabilities” was that he orally took the banned substance intentionally in tablet form on more than one occasion.
But Singh said it was not the main reason for Narsingh being handed a ban. Instead he stressed that Narsingh paid for the absence of criminal proceedings in India.
“I was present in the full hearing of CAS. The chemist (expert), who had come there, was of the opinion that Narsingh had taken the substance in tablet form. But that is just her assumption and it was not evidence enough.
“The main reason why Narsingh was slapped with a ban was because of the lack of criminal proceedings done by the (Sonepat) Police,” revealed Singh.
“We tried to explain that our criminal proceedings take a long time, even the court cases follow a long procedure. But CAS wanted to know what action has been taken against those who are guilty. Had police done their job properly and had arrested the guy (Jithesh), who had spiked food/drinks, then Narsingh would not have to face the suspension. Police has not done anything so far. Police is responsible for the situation today,” an agitated Singh said.
On whether WFI had not anticipated a WADA review in Rio, Singh said: “First NADA had cleared him, followed by WFI, IOC, World body (UWW), and only after getting all the clearances from concerned organisations, he left for Rio de Janeiro.
“WADA should have appealed earlier, but we can’t question that. They appealed on 13th August and told the IOA and we were informed on 15th August when we reached there. But even if we had known it on 13th, we could not have done anything. We had no time to call our lawyer. We were not prepared.
“But it was not a fault on our part as we had sent him only after getting all the necessary clearance. Moreover, CAS emphasised on why no criminal proceedings have been done so far in India.”
Regarding the criminal case filed against Jithesh at a Sonepat police station, the WADA said that if any decision was rendered at a later stage by a criminal court in India which confirmed the alleged sabotage, then any award made by the CAS panel could be reviewed by the Supreme Court in Switzerland where the CAS is based.
“CAS has kept a door opened for us as they understood that there is something wrong but because of lack of evidence, we could not prove Narsingh’s innocence,” said Singh.
Meanwhile, Narsingh also once again demanded a CBI inquiry, saying that India lost out on a sure-shot medal in 74kg freestyle as he was not allowed to participate.
“India has definitely lost out on a medal in 74kg because one of the two guys who has bagged a bronze in Rio — Soner Demirtas of Turkey — I had defeated him during the World Championship at Las Vegas last year enroute to ensuring my Olympic quota place with a bronze-medal.
“I am really doubtful whether the Sonepat police is investigating the matter thoroughly. Despite complains, they have not made any headway into the case. That’s why I am urging for a CBI inquiry,” he said.
He also said that his career would be over if the ban imposed on him is not reviewed by CAS and that would happen only if there is a proper investigation done.