Wrestling Rio participation list unclear after meldonium guidelines

The latest meldonium guidelines have triggered speculation as to how the United World Wrestling would accommodate the additional last-minute wrestling entries for participation in Rio Olympics.

The recent WADA guidance “confirms that from March 1 (and up until September 30) 2016, cases with a low concentration of meldonium found in an athlete’s sample (less than one μg /mL) are compatible with a no fault finding.”   -  AP

The reinstatement of five wrestlers for the Rio Olympics following the latest meldonium guidelines by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may not have impacted any Indian but it has triggered speculation as to how the United World Wrestling (UWW) would accommodate the additional last-minute entries.

The UWW had stripped Olympic quota places from six athletes, who returned meldonium positive results in dope tests conducted in various qualifying events, in May. These vacant places were handed to the next best wrestlers in the respective weight categories and India got two, Babita Kumari (women’s 53kg) and Ravinder Khatri (Greco Roman 85kg).

The recent WADA guidance “confirms that from March 1 (and up until September 30) 2016, cases with a low concentration of meldonium found in an athlete’s sample (less than one μg /mL) are compatible with a no fault finding.”

Also, athletes who gave samples that returned positive results between January 1 and February 29 will be treated under ‘no fault’ if their samples contained less than five μg /mL of meldonium.

This allowed UWW to reinstate Magomedmurat Gadzhiev (Poland, Freestyle 65kg), Yanarbek Kenzheev (Kyrgyzstan, Greco Roman 85kg), Sumiya Erdenchimeg (Mongolia, women 53kg), Andriy Kziatkovsky (Ukraine, FS 65kg) and Oksana Herhel (Ukraine, women 58kg), while leaving out another wrestler Alen Zasieiev as his country Ukraine qualified in 125kg in the World qualifying event.

The UWW made it clear that “all National Olympic Committees previously granted Olympic qualification spots would not be affected by this adjustment.”

Bigger draws?

The move, however, initiated speculation as to how the UWW would accommodate the reinstated athletes. There is an argument that the UWW may have to make the draws bigger. The step, nevertheless, is not easy.

According to Byelaw 11 to rule 44 of Chapter 5 of the Olympic Charter, “The number of entries for each sport is established by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board following consultation with the relevant international federations three years before the Olympic Games concerned.”

Any alteration to the number of entries will have to be sanctioned by the IOC Executive Board. Since the next IOC Executive Board meeting is scheduled on July 30 and 31, it will be beyond the entries submission deadline (July 18) and too close to the Olympics, starting from August 5.

The other method is to find ways to accommodate these last-minute entries within the total allocated quota places of 344. The UWW has already published names of 336 qualified wrestlers. That leaves four places each belonging to the host country quota and tripartite commission places.

Since five Brazilians have already booked their places through qualifying events, the UWW may use the host country quota places (which would also be reallocated by the tripartite commission) to give Olympic tickets to the reinstated wrestlers.

As July 18 is also the deadline for the UWW to reallocate all unused quota places, the world body has to act fast to settle the issue.