NADA concludes hearing, decision on Narsingh's fate deferred

A day after Narsingh and his lawyers presented their case on the failed dope test, which, according to them, was a conspiracy against the grappler, NADA's legal team gave its arguments against the sabotage theory before the disciplinary committee.

Narsingh Yadav's supporters shout slogans demanding justice for the wrestler in front of the NADA headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  PTI

Wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s wait to know his fate vis-a-vis his hopes of going to the Olympics got longer on Thursday with the NADA Disciplinary Panel withholding its decision till Saturday or even Monday.

Even though the wrestler himself continued to express confidence about his chances of participating at Rio, those hopes are diminishing with each passing day. Thursday saw another marathon session of the hearing, lasting more than three hours, with the NADA lawyers arguing against any leniency and seeking a four-year ban on Narsingh.

With supporters raising slogans in Narsingh’s favour all through the time the hearing was on and even clashing with the assembled media-persons when it was finally over, the NADA office witnessed a stampede in pouring rain before both parties were allowed to speak. When they finally did, however, there was little to indicate which way the decision might go.

“The argument advanced by NADA is that he is not eligible for the remission which he has been asking because he has to establish there is no fault or negligence on his part and he has not been able to establish that,” NADA lawyer Gaurang Kanth said, adding that they had sought the minimum ban, which is four years under WADA rules.

Narsingh himself refused to say anything except reiterate that he was a victim of conspiracy and had placed his innocence in front of the panel.

“I have never doped in my long career. I am hopeful that everything will be all right. We have to wait for the decision. But I am continuing my practice with full concentration and I am hopeful that I can go to Rio,” was all he said before being whisked away by his battery of lawyers.

Some reprieve

There was some reprieve for Narsingh, however, with the NADA Panel considering both his positive tests — from samples taken on June 25 and July 5 — in continuation and as one offence, which would make this his first offence and allow him to escape a life ban. However, there was little else to cheer about for the 26-year old.

“It is expected of a top athlete of Narsingh’s repute to be careful with what he takes. Their argument was that they are eligible for remission under Article 10.4 of WADA rules. But they have to show they are under no fault as far as contamination of substance is concerned and have to establish that all this happened without his knowledge and prove how the substance entered his body. NADA is holding that he has not been able to establish that,” Gaurang Kanth added.

Sources said the NADA lawyers questioned the conspiracy theory angle, saying there was no shred of evidence to support it. “NADA said that even if the June 5 case of alleged sabotage of food, which was placed before the Panel, was considered, it in no way supported the allegations of spiking Narsingh’s drink or food in the next two tests,” they said.

The entire timeline of the case makes it even more difficult to prove things either way. Since Narsingh returned form Bulgaria only on June 22, it left only three days for anyone to spike his diet, as claimed. On the other hand, if he had doped in Bulgaria as is being claimed by some of his detractors, then the matter of his roommate Sandeep Yadav, who did not go abroad, also testing positive becomes a sore point.

According to Article 2.1.1 of NADA’s rules, “It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body. Athletes are responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in their Samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, Fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping rule violation.” This makes it more difficult for Narsingh to get away lightly.

Mustafa Gouse, JSW representative, said the defence had countered NADA’s concerns and that it was confident of its case and is hopeful of a favourable verdict. He, however, refused to comment on the next plan of action in case of an adverse report. “We will deal with it when we get there,” he said.