Even as the detailed decision of the Court of Arbitration is awaited, a sliver of hope remains for Narsingh Yadav since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has agreed to review the wrestler’s case if the Indian investigating authorities are able to produce hard evidence that he was a victim of sabotage.
The ad hoc division of CAS in Rio pronounced a four-year ban on the 74kg wrestler on Thursday after WADA stated that it would review his case if “tangible” evidence is presented to them.
Two dope tests from samples collected on July 5 and June 25 were found to have adverse analytical findings. Mess workers who had deposed before the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) said that they had foiled an alleged attempt by a cadet wrestler to contaminate Yadav’s food. There were allegations his amino drink was also contaminated, leading to the presence of the anabolic steroid methandienone in the wrestler’s body.CAS in its release has stated that we haven’t been able to establish the source of the substance. While its adjudication on facts pertaining to threats to Yadav’s life or the sabotage theory is awaited, WADA had pleaded before CAS that the athlete had failed to provide tangible proof of someone mixing the amino drink with the prohibited substance or the test results of the sabotaged amino drink.
“The latter was, of course, not possible as Narsingh had consumed it. We told them that the cadet wrestler, who has been accused of sabotage earlier, was present at the SAI Sonepat centre on June 23 and 24 and until July 5 and that his name was on the records. But WADA said it was mere circumstantial evidence. Further doubts were raised on whether the prohibited substance had come from a single ingestion or not,” Yadav’s counsel Vidushpat Singhania of Krida Legal, who appeared for him at the four-hour long hearing via teleconference, told TOI.
“We told WADA that the criminal case against the accused was pending and requested them to allow Yadav to participate in the Olympics. We submitted that if CAS was not convinced with the circumstantial evidence currently available, the case before CAS’s regular procedure could continue once further evidence was procured through criminal investigation. No irreparable harm will be caused to WADA if the athlete was allowed to participate, as an avenue to cancel his results was available to them retrospectively. However, CAS did not accept this stand.”
Too much of a coincidence?
Leading British solicitor Mark Hovell, a member of the National Anti-Doping panel of the United Kingdom, headed the CAS panel that slapped Narsingh Yadav with a four-year ban on Thursday. The lawyer has been part of the court’s panel on two other occasions when Indians were handed suspensions for anti-doping violations. Hovell was an arbitrator in 2012 when CAS upheld an appeal from the International Association of Athletics Federations against Indian quarter-milers (Ashwini Akkunji, Sini Jose, Mandeep Kaur, Priyanka Panwar, Juana Murmu and Tiana Mary Thomas) for steroid abuse. Hovell essayed a similar role in judoka Nirupama Devi’s case in 2013.