Underhand move thwarted
Grappler rsingh Yadav’s prayers to represent India at the Rio Olympics have been answered, but what happened to him reveals the dirty underbelly of Indian sports. In an unprecedented ruling, the tiol Anti Doping Agency (DA) on Monday gave a clean chit to the Maharashtra wrestler from doping allegations. It ruled that Yadav has been a ‘victim of sabotage done by a competitor’. Freestyle wrestling may have its share of underhand moves, but an attempt to torpedo Yadav’s candidature by spiking his food and drink with banned drugs during a tiol training camp — is skullduggery on a high level. The attempt nearly succeeded after Yadav tested positive for the abolic steroid methandienone on June 25 last, and then failed a second dope test conducted on July 5. He was promptly suspended from the Rio-bound Indian contingent, with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) sending Parveen Ra as a replacement in the 74-kg freestyle category. The plot meanwhile thickened as the DA tried to get to the bottom of the murky goings-on at the SAI training camp in Sonepat. Even two cooks at the SAI facility were questioned. An anguished Yadav commented that he could not believe anyone would stoop so low as to threaten his career. After all, had the doping charges been upheld by DA, the 27-year old grappler would have been banned for four years by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), effectively ending his career.
In a desperate struggle to clear his me, Yadav, a Maharashtra police DSP, filed an FIR with the Sonepat police; he also complained to the WFI, ming a senior wrestler and an official behind his dope fiasco. Exonerating Yadav of any fault or negligence, the DA has now clarified that none of his samples had ever tested positive earlier, and ‘it is inconceivable that one-time ingestion would be of benefit’. And so, this one-time taking of the banned steroid ‘was not intentiol’, ruled DA. This answers the question as to why Yadav would take a substance like methandienone so close to the Olympics, when it is a known drug and high on the WADA watchlist. What is more, Yadav’s roommate at the SAI camp had also tested positive for the same drug, when he had no major tourment coming up in near future. This seemed a sure indication that some intruder had entered their room during their absence to do the damage. Later, the alleged infiltrator was identified as a 65-kg wrestler who has reportedly confessed to mixing illegal supplements in Yadav’s food. He has represented India in the junior ranks; his elder brother too is an intertiol wrestler in the super-heavyweight category. Thus it is that rsingh yadav has been given the benefit of Article 10.4 of the WADA’s anti-doping code which provides for exceptiol circumstances, for example, ‘where an athlete could prove that, despite all due care, he or she was sabotaged by a competitor.’
It has been known for quite some time that a North Indian wrestlers lobby has been opposed to Yadav, whose father had migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Maharashtra. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he had come from nowhere to win a gold. In the World Championships last year at Las Vegas, Yadav stunned even his coaches when he employed a showboating ‘dhak’ move to floor his French rival and grab the bronze medal. He thereby grabbed a quota place in the 74-kg freestyle category at the Rio Olympics for his country. But then an unseemly controversy erupted after Yadav was selected ahead of two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar, who stridently demanded the berth through a trial. However, the WFI stood by Yadav; later the Delhi High Court upheld his claim, for it is seldom that a wrestler who has won the quota is replaced by someone else for the Olympics. rsingh Yadav, despite facing lobby politics as an ‘outsider’, is slowly being recognized as the future face of Indian wrestling. But the torment he underwent blows the lid off the utter lack of sportsmanship in sections of the sporting fraternity. But however cut-throat the rivalry, trying to get a competitor falsely implicated on drug charges is a new low in India. In 1994, US figure skating champion and two-time Olympian Tonya Harding came under a cloud after members of her camp hired a thug to break the right leg of her closest rival ncy Kerrigan. The attempt did not succeed; Kerrigan went on to win a silver in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Harding later pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution and was banned for life from the sport. It just goes to show that underhand means can sometimes backfire badly on the perpetrator’s face.