Rio de Janeiro: In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav was ousted from the Olympics and slapped with a four-year ban for flunking a dope test after Court of Arbitration for Sports overturned the clean chit given to him by the National Anti-Doping Agency.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had appealed against the NADA all-clear to Narsingh at CAS, three days ahead of his scheduled opening bout at the Olympics.
"...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," CAS said in a statement after the hearing, which lasted four hours last night.
"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). 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. Therefore the standard 4-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel," it added.
The verdict marked a painful end to the sordid controversy which began with the wrestler failing a June 25 test.
The 27-year-old's name had 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 the CAS verdict has dashed all his hopes.
The embattled 74kg category grappler has maintained all along that his scandalous dope test was a result of conspiracy by rivals who spiked his food or drinks.
"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 athlete asserted that he was the victim of sabotage (food/drink tampering) by another person. WADA requested that a 4-year period of ineligibility be imposed on the athlete," the CAS further noted.
Having grabbed the quota by virtue of his World Championships bronze in Las Vegas last year, Narsingh's road to Rio was fraught with obstacles after he was named to represent India ahead of double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar.
Sushil dragged Narsingh to the Delhi High Court and a bitter courtroom tussle followed but the judgement went in latter's favour.
There was more drama in store for the Asian Games bronze-medallist after he returned positive for a banned steroid following a dope test in June by the NADA.
Narsingh's roommate at the SAI centre in Sonipat also tested positive for the same substance but WFI backed the Mumbai-based wrestler's claims of a foul-play.
Days before the Olympics, Narsingh was cleared of doping charges by the NADA who said the wrestler was indeed a victim of 'sabotage' and deserved the benefit of doubt.
However, his hopes were dealt a massive blow when WADA challenged the NADA's decision and moved the CAS amid speculation that the wrestler may face a ban up to four years.
Sandeep Tomar (57kg) is the other Indian wrestler in action today and has been drawn to face Russia's Viktor Lebedev in the pre-quarterfinal.