CHENNAI: What’s with Indian wrestling and its well-chronicled love affair with the words ‘anti’ and ‘doping’? The latest installment in one of the longest running sagas in Indian sport comes from the recently-held Asian Championships in New Delhi in May.
Five Greco-Roman wrestlers — Harpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Ravinder, Hardeep and Naveen — were tested by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA). Nothing suspicious there. ASADA, who will go on taking samples of potential CWG-bound athletes, had the permission of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United World Wrestling (UWW) to take samples. The National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) were also in the loop. However, the five wrestlers in question and their coaches had made ASADA wait for more than five hours before giving their samples. This standoff was because the wrestlers wanted to complete their weigh-in before complying with demands.
This delay, Express has reliably learnt, irked WADA so much that they were even mulling sanctions against the wrestlers, coaches and support staff. Apparently a two-year ban was talked about at one stage. However, after much cajoling, WADA, who initially wanted to charge all persons of interest for failing to show for a drugs test, has let the wrestlers off with a warning.
That all the five tests returned negative also helped in WADA’s climb down. It’s learnt that NADA also faced some heat from WADA. “It was a big misunderstanding,” NADA chief Naveen Agarwal told Express. “They informed us about the procedures and what was expected of the organising committee, athletes and coaches when anti-doping agency come to take samples.
“What had happened was the wrestlers and the coaches asked them to wait till after the weigh-in ceremony. They did not want to consume water or give samples as that could affected their weight category. So they did not want to affect the composition of their bodily fluids.”
NADA, who have been previously bitten by WADA with respect to the Narsingh Yadav case, have also had a talk with respect to how to handle such situations going forward. “We have taken steps to ensure that such a thing does not happen in the future,” Agarwal said.