Narsingh Yadav waiting to be vindicated by CBI inquiry

The wrestler was banned for four years for doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

Narsingh Yadav (middle) alongside Ranjit Jadhav (left), son of India’s first Olympic medallist K. D. Jadhav, and Sangram Singh at the launch of K. D. Jadhav Memorial Kushti Championship.   -  Special Arrangement

Narsingh Yadav, frustrated at being forced to stay away from wrestling, hopes his innocent stance with regards to doping is vindicated by the ongoing investigation in India. A year after a four-year ban was imposed on him by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the wrestler spoke about his wish to represent India soon, on the sidelines of K. D. Jadhav Memorial Kushti Championship, a private wrestling competition.

Narsingh said: “A sportsperson lives for competition. There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to keep away from wrestling. You all know what happened and the inquiry is on. The final decision will come out after the police do their work and permit me to represent India.”

Yadav had qualified for Rio Olympics in the 74 kg category when he returned positive tests twice for a steroid named methandienon.

National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) cleared him to compete, but CAS intervened to overrule the decision in August last year.

Narsingh had alleged sabotage of food sample by team-mates, but had no proof to support this possibility. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating the charge of sabotage that may have taken place at a national camp. The Olympian remains suspended from participation in official competitions till the ban period is over.

‘Framed’

Narsingh spoke about his ordeal bluntly: “I was framed and had not done anything wrong. I have moved on, forgetting that incident as if it was a nightmare. I hope the CBI inquiry will clear my name and leave me free to fight again. I am training on my own to keep in touch with wrestling and will be ready as and when the nation decides to choose me for an international event.”

Narsingh hoped the government and agencies responsible for organising national camps increase the vigil to prevent sabotage of food consumed by wrestlers. “The government should pay attention to camps and increase security at such places, so that the future of other athletes is not shattered,” he said, adding: “I wrestle to win medals for India. I was close to winning an Olympic medal ( at Rio 2016). I hope justice is done and by 2020 Olympics (Tokyo) I am allowed to take part.”

Narsingh also expressed optimism at the state of Indian wrestling. “A medal at Rio is a great happening. Vinesh Phogat got injured, otherwise she was worthy of winning a medal, apart from Sakshi. At this rate of progress, three to four Olympic medals from wrestling is possible next time.”

K. D. Jadhav wrestling

Narsingh is keen to accept an invite to return to the mat in future. “It is a good thing that an event is being held in memory of Indian legend Khashaba Jadhav. Sangram Singh and other new wrestlers will fight. I will take part if needed since the cause is noble. If I get an opportunity to represent my country, I will take it.”

Commonwealth Games grappler Sangram Singh is one of the fighters in the event held in memory of India’s first individual Olympic medallist, the late Khashaba Jadhav. Sangram decided to launch a competition featuring Indian and foreign grapplers in New Delhi and Mumbai this year (dates and venues are yet to be announced). He will fight an American and the day-card includes four more bouts.

Khashaba’s son Ranjeet Jadhav welcomed the initiative to popularise wrestling by the Sangram Singh Foundation, by giving opportunities to grapplers from smaller towns, as well as female wrestlers. The main event will be as per professional wrestling pattern, six rounds of three minutes each.