WFI supports Narsingh but Rio dreams fading

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh made some explosive revelations which, if confirmed, may well cause turmoil in an already bitterly divided Indian wrestling.

Narsingh Yadav was the first wrestler to earn a spot for the Rio Olympics, qualifying in the 74kg category.   -  PTI

The doping controversy around Olympics-bound Narsingh Yadav is turning murkier with Wrestling Federation of India not only backing the wrestler to the hilt but also reiterating the conspiracy angle and indicting senior officials for the same.

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, in a hurriedly-called interaction here on Monday, threw his weight behind the beleaguered wrestler and assured full support. “We are fully behind Narsingh, we believe in his innocence and we will go to any extent to support him in his fight for justice and try and get him on the plane to Rio,” Sharan said.

READ: > Narsingh's Rio dreams over, hints Sports Minister

Sharan also made some explosive revelations which, if confirmed, may well cause turmoil in an already bitterly divided Indian wrestling.

“On June 5, a person was caught trying to add something to his food at the Sonepat camp in the absence of the head cook. The matter was hushed up by camp officials and that particular batch of food thrown away. All this clearly indicates that Narsingh was repeatedly targeted, this time they managed to succeed,” Sharan claimed.

Narsingh, who was the first wrestler to earn a spot for the Olympics, qualified in the 74kg category. He also had to battle through a court case filed by double-Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar to confirm his participation at Rio. Now that looks doubtful.

> ALSO READ: Failed test of Narsingh’s roommate raises suspicion

“Narsingh has already filed an official written complaint naming a senior lady SAI official and some other employees of the training centre in Sonepat in the conspiracy. He has already appeared before the NADA panel for a hearing and the final hearing will happen on Wednesday and reports of his food supplements testing will also come. By Thurday everything will be clear,” Sharan added.

In his official complaint to WFI, a copy of which is with Sportstar, Narsingh has claimed that in the last one month itself he has been tested thrice – on June 2, June 25 and July 5 – and he has been available every time as an athlete under WADA's dope testing pool and signatory to the whereabouts clause. Narsingh has also raised the issue of his sparring partner and roommate Sandeep Tulsi Yadav also testing positive despite not preparing for any competition in the near future, something that the federation has also questioned.

“We are in constant touch with the international federation (UWW) and giving them updates on the matter. We will try our best to make sure Narsingh goes to Rio. If that doesn't happen, we will see whether we are allowed a replacement and who would that be. The chief coach's recommendations will be considered,” Sharan added.

Interestingly, SAI had offered Narsingh to train at his home base in Mumbai but the latter had refused.

“SAI DG Injeti Srinivas had received report from the Haryana CID that Narsingh was in danger and offered training at Kandivili. But Narsingh wanted to train with the rest of his team-mates. All the coaches and staff were also in Sonepat. After we won the court case, we never expected something like this would happen. Narsingh never thought someone could go to this extent,” Sharan said, not naming anyone but throwing ample hints at who he considered responsible for the mess.

Sources close to the wrestler claim there were enough indications that it was all a set up.

“NADA doesn't work on weekends but Narsingh got the mail informing him to appear before its panel on July 16 and that too without keeping the federation in the loop. The process of testing a sample normally takes 30-35 days,” sources say.

But Dr. P. S. M. Chandran, former member of the NADA appeal panel, said informing the athlete was paramount since the federation doesn't have a role to play in the process. Also, he clarified that testing of a sample could be done even within 48 hours in urgent cases, as would be during the Olympics.

He also said that while he doesn't remember NADA working on weekends, it was normal practice across the world for agencies to hear and decide cases throughout the week, round the clock. Narsingh's June 25 samples had tested positive for Methadienone, an anabolic steroid that helps develop muscles.

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