Wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s chances of being eligible to participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics heavily depends on the outcome of the pending criminal case related to his positive dope tests.
On August 18, hours before his 74kg freestyle bout at the Rio Olympics, Narsingh was dramatically handed a four-year suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appeal against the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) disciplinary panel decision exonerating the World championship bronze medallist.
The CAS order said the athlete failed to satisfy his burden of proof and the panel was satisfied with the most likely explanation that “the athlete simply and intentionally ingested the prohibited substance in tablet form in more than one occasion.”
As per the CAS order, the days of provisional suspension on the athlete would be deducted from the total ban period. Since Narsingh, who was provisionally suspended on July 16 after returning a positive result and was cleared by the NADA panel on August 1, had served 16 days of provisional suspension, his period of ineligibility would end on August 1, 2020 instead of August 17, 2020.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 9 and wrestling competitions are likely to be conducted in the later part of the Games. Still, Narsingh cannot take part in the next Olympics as he will not be eligible to participate in the qualifying tournaments for the mega event.
Taking note of the criminal case against one Jithesh, who has been accused of sabotaging Narsingh’s food or drink, the CAS order said, “WADA confirmed 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 this panel could be reviewed by the Supreme Court in Switzerland in the light of such new evidence and respondents.”
Narsingh’s lawyer Vidushpat Singhania informed that there was no deadline to file a review seeking reduction in the period of suspension. “We can file a review if we find that the outcome of the criminal investigation supports us. There is no deadline to file the request for a review,” said Singhania.
Since the WADA Code requires an athlete to provide proof to establish sabotage by a competitor under its ‘No Fault or Negligence’ and ‘No Significant Fault or Negligence’ clauses to seek reduction in the period of ineligibility, Narsingh would hope that the criminal investigation concluded that Jithesh indeed spiked his food or drink and he did so at the behest of Sushil Kumar who was keen to compete in the Olympics in the same weight category.
At present, the road ahead looks tough for 27-year-old Narsingh.
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