At the outset, the case was pretty much straightforward. India’s top wrestler and World Championship bronze medallist Narsingh Yadav tested positive for methandienone during an out-of-competition test ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016 and was provisionally banned. The matter could have been closed then and there. Instead, bizarre events followed. A sabotage theory was floated that dal and drinks were spiked by an intruder at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonepat.
The worst thing was the pointing of fingers at one of the most accomplished wrestlers of our times, Sushil Kumar, who failed to convince the court to allow a trial against Narsingh for a spot in the Rio Olympics team in the 74 kg category.
Now the CBI that is probing the matter is on the verge of closing the case as it apparently has found nothing to pursue. More than the athletes, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) officials who were trying to exonerate Narsingh would be left red-faced. What is irksome is the way the whole saga was handled.
The WFI attacked the SAI and National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) officials of conspiring against the wrestler. The body was under immense pressure to give Narsingh a clean chit. Though NADA hastily cleared the wrestler in multiple hearings that smacked of ad-hocism, the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned the wrestler in Rio. What was most unfair is the way the WFI treated Sushil. It even had the temerity to point fingers at him.
Like all athletes, Narsingh too has brought in the sabotage angle. The lawyers defending Narsingh did not have much understanding of doping in India. The deniability factor always exists in a positive case, especially in India. Now that the case is winding up, will the trauma faced by Sushil, SAI and NADA officials be erased? It is about time federations too are made accountable for doping. If the federation gets recognition and fame for medals, why can’t it take the flak as well? It is time the WFI came out and apologised to everyone it had tried to run down.