The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) hopes that Narsingh Yadav makes a personal appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), seeking a reduction in the duration of the four-year ban imposed on him after testing positive for methandienone ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar, in Mumbai for an event to announce annual retainers for wrestlers as part of the Elite Wrestlers Development Programme, said: “The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has taken a decision on this issue, we cannot do much. If he appeals to CAS to reduce the period of ban, taking into consideration his track record till then and pointing out that Tokyo qualifiers will come up, maybe they will look at his case again. 

“We are waiting for him to return to the mat as early as possible.”

Supporting evidence

The wrestler alleged sabotage in his food and liquid intake during a national camp at SAI’s Sonepat campus in the build-up towards Rio. He and the federation were not able to provide supporting evidence when the WADA sought a decision from CAS on his eligibility to take part at Rio, when the move to impose the ban was announced and he was sent back from the Olympic village. 

The ban ends in two years, by when the 2020 Olympic qualifiers will have been decided.

The WFI official expressed the federation’s helplessness in getting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry into the sabotage angle completed.

“Our federation supports Narsingh and hopes he returns to training. The investigation is in CBI’s hands and we are waiting for their report,” said Tomar, adding: “We hope the inquiry is done quickly, so that he can appeal to CAS for a reduced ban, in time before the Olympic qualifiers are finalised.”

In contention

Asked about wrestlers in contention for a place in men’s 74 kg freestyle, Tomar said: “the Olympic preparations for Tokyo are on. Sushil Kumar took part in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games and is still active in the sport. Narsingh has not returned after the ban, till then Sushil is the best of the lot.” 

When asked to comment on WFI’s stance and the option of an appeal to CAS, Narsing did not wish to comment in view of the CBI case in progress.

The Mumbai-based grappler expressed hope of getting a shot at preparing for Tokyo. “At stake is an Olympic medal for the nation. For India’s sake, I pray for the CBI to finish their inquiry. I am confident the truth will clear my name.” 

Narsingh made his Olympic debut at London 2012 and won a bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas to earn an Olympic quota in 74kg. Chosen ahead of Sushil for Rio, he was banned for doping hours before his bout and has been sidelined since then.