Even without the ban, it was unlikely that wrestler Narsingh Yadav would have done anything spectacular at Rio. He joined the Indian Olympic Squad after being exonerated by NADA and waited for his 74-kg qualification round on August 18. NADA’s Navin Agrawal may not admit but he acted under heavy government influence in hastily upholding Narsingh Yadav’s plea that he had been a victim of sabotage. World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA challenged NADA’s decision and approached the CAS for further intervention. Narsingh Yadav’s qualification bout was scheduled for August 18 against Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France but he couldn’t take the ring because the CAS order on his ban arrived hours earlier. For India, who somehow saved their face by figuring in the final medal tally with Sindhu’s badminton silver and Sakhsi’s wrestling bronze, Narsingh’s shameful suspension pointed to the result of unwanted governmental interference in affairs related to sports.
While handing down a four-year ban on Narsingh Yadav, the ad-hoc penal of CAS ruled that Narsingh Yadav has failed to produce any real evidence on the sabotage theory he had been harping. The court believed that the wrestler orally took one or two tablets of the banned methandienone on more than one occasion. That expert evidence suggested that the contents of metabolites of methandienone in Narsingh’s first test of urine sample on June 25 was so high that it could only have come from oral intake rather than any powder mixed with water or food as the wrestler claimed. With that, Narsingh’s eagerly-awaited Rio Olympic campaign came to an end. He was forced to cede his first match to French wrestler Zelimkhan Khadjiev. Though Indian officials expressed their shock at CAS’s decision, WADA was convinced that upholding of the wrestler’s sabotage theory by NADA was a huge error since it could have a huge impact on WADA’s world-wide anti-doping campaign.
The expert opinion was advanced by Canadian Professor Christiane Ayotte, who represented WADA at CAS. Professor Ayotte has been a member of IAAF Doping Commission since 1995 and was elected representative of the Heads of IOC Accredited Laboratories in 1995-1996. She is currently the Director of the WADA accredited laboratory in Montreal. Ayotte said that the Indian wrestler’s urine sample of June 25 was found to contain metabolites of methandienone and long term metabolite of methandienone. The same result came from Narsingh’s July 5 sample as well and Ayotte ruled out the sabotage theory. The ad-hoc panel said that it was not satisfied by NADA’s exoneration of the athlete that he had unloaded his burden of guilt by saying that the banned chemicals were mixed with his food or drink. The panel said that the level of metabolites of methandienone in the sample could come only from oral ingestion by Narsingh himself.
The operative award on the doping ban became effective on August 18 and the Indian wrestler cannot take part in any international competitions for the next four years. Out of 20 wrestlers in the 74-kg freestyle bout, Narsingh was the only one disqualified. His French opponent won 5-0 by forfeit and finished 8th in overall standings with the gold medal being won by Iran’s Hassan Aliazam Yazdanicharati.
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