To say that Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav has endured a rocky road to Rio, will be an understatement. From being uncertain of even making the cut – after demands of a trail by rival Sushil Kumar – despite winning the quota place, to being cleared by the High Court to compete; from failing multiple dope tests, days before the Olympics, to being cleared by the High Court and reaching Rio, Narsingh has had an arduous journey to the Rio Olympics 2016.
However, the road has finally come to an end following the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appeal. Not only will he miss the Rio Games, but he will potentially miss out on future Games as well, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) banned him for four years for a doping violation.
Narsingh was embroiled in a doping controversy in the run up to the Olympics, but was cleared by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) ahead of the Games.
But the WADA decided to appeal to the CAS against the NADA's clearance to Narsingh, just two days before the star grappler was scheduled to compete at the Games.
Here's all you need to know about the WADA ban on Narsingh Yadav.
What happened in India
Just weeks before the start of the Rio Games, Narsingh tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid, methandienone, in tests conducted by National Anti-doping Agency (NADA) on 25 June, followed by a hearing by the NADA disciplinary panel.
Upon the conclusion of the hearing, NADA exonerated Narsingh of doping charges, citing that he was a victim of sabotage and thereby paved the way for the wrestler's participation in Olympics.
Yadav had said that his supplements and water had been sabotaged and lodged a police complaint against a junior wrestler, accusing him of contaminating his food at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in Sonepat.
WADA filed an urgent application before the CAS to challenge the decision of NADA India, to exonerate Yadav following two positive doping tests in June and July.
What happened in Rio
Narsingh was due to compete in Friday's men's freestyle 74 kg division wrestling competition in Rio. The 27-year-old's name had also appeared in the official Olympic schedule, after he underwent the mandatory weigh-in. He was to take on France's Zelimkhan Khadjiev in the qualification round.
But CAS upheld an appeal by the WADA against the NADA decision to exonerate Yadav of blame, despite failing two doping tests earlier this year for an anabolic steroid.
What is CAS
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an institution independent of any sports organisation which provides for services in order to facilitate the settlement of sports-related disputes through arbitration or mediation by means of procedural rules adapted to specific needs of the sports world. The CAS has the task of resolving legal disputes in the field of sport through arbitration. It does this by pronouncing arbitral awards that have the same enforceability as judgments of ordinary courts.
What did CAS rule
In a statement, CAS said, "WADA filed an urgent application before the CAS ad hoc Division to challenge the decision of NADA India to exonerate Narsingh Yadav following two positive anti-doping tests with methandienone on 25 June and 5 July 2016."
"The CAS panel in charge of this matter heard the parties and their representatives. The parties were informed that the application was upheld, that Narsingh Yadav was sanctioned with a four-year ineligibility period starting today and that any period of provisional suspension or ineligibility effectively served by the athlete before the entry into force of this award shall be credited against the total period of ineligibility to be served," the CAS stated.
"The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the victim of sabotage and noted that there was no evidence that he bore no fault, nor that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional."
"Furthermore, all competitive results obtained by Narsingh Yadav from and including 25 June 2016 shall be disqualified, with all resulting consequences (including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes)."
Conspiracy theories, blame game and CBI inquiry
The Indian Olympic Association blamed unnamed compatriots for his ouster from the Olympics and for the four-year ban slapped on him.
"It's not just a loss for Narsingh at the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports) but he was beaten by his compatriots, who did not want to let him compete at the Olympics, and not by his opponents," IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta told PTI after the verdict of the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
Mehta was part of the four-hour-long hearing and the verdict marked a painful end to the sordid controversy which began with the wrestler failing the 25 June test.
"The picture is clear and neither I nor anyone has to say who's done the foul play. If you go back, you can easily connect the dots and would clearly know who could be the suspect," said Mehta, further backing the shamed grappler.
"As of now, the culprits have been successful in stopping him from the Olympics, though we may challenge the order and minimise the ban. It's a loss for the country," he added.
Hinting at a conspiracy theory, Mehta added, "We must go deep into the matter and the government should initiate a CBI inquiry into the matter. It's not a small thing, it's plaguing our country's sport and we must nip this in the bud,"
"Days after he won the battle at the Delhi High Court, a phone call came from his SAI centre in Sonepat about some doping activities, the raid happened and his sample was found positive. It cannot be sheer coincidence," Mehta added.
What next for Narsingh?
According to the Court of Arbitration for Sport website, it is possible to appeal against a CAS award. Judicial recourse to the Swiss Federal Tribunal is allowed on a very limited number of grounds, such as lack of jurisdiction, violation of elementary procedural rules (eg violation of the right to a fair hearing) or incompatibility with public policy.
What Narsingh said
"To say I am devastated at the decision of CAS would be putting it mildly. I have gone through so much over the last two months off the mat but the thought of fighting for the glory of the nation at the Games had kept me going. My dream of competing and winning the country a medal at the Rio Olympics has been cruelly snatched away from me twelve hours before my first bout. But I will do everything it takes to prove my innocence. It is all I have left to fight for," he said in a statement issued by his sponsors JSW Sports.
What WFI, Chef de Mission said
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh called for a probe by the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) into the whole affair.
"This should not happen to any sportsperson in the future. I demand a CBI probe into the entire issue so that this episode is not repeated in the future," Brijbhushan told a television news channel.
"We feel sorry for Narsingh, this should not happen to any athlete."
"It is very sad and unfortunate. We were hopeful until the last proceeding of the CAS that he will get through which unfortunately did not happen," Indian Chef de Mission Rakesh Gupta told IANS after the hearing.
"It is really very sad because he had a real potential to clinch a medal."
What JSW Sports said
"JSW Sports is deeply disappointed at the verdict of CAS in handing wrestler Narsingh Yadav a four-year ban following an appeal by WADA. Narsingh is, first and foremost, an athlete of India who we at JSW Sports proudly support and will continue doing so. Ever since he has earned a berth to represent the country at the Olympic Games, Narsingh has been put through an ordeal that no athlete should have to ever go through," JSW sports said in a press statement.
"We strongly believe in Narsingh's innocence and will stand by the wrestler in doing everything to fight for justice. We will be pressing for a review of the decision that WADA would be amenable to, if further evidence is found pertaining to sabotage."
Other athletes out of Rio 2016
Yadav was the fourth athlete to be kicked out of the Games for failing a dope test.
Brazilian cyclist Kleber Ramos and Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi were disqualified for using a banned blood booster EPO Cera and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide respectively.
Kyrgyzstani weightlifter Izzat Artykov, who won bronze in the men's under-69kg category, was banned after testing positive for strychnine, a stimulant.
First Published On : Aug 19, 2016 11:46 IST