Back under a doping cloud

Back under a doping cloud

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World Championship bronze medallist, wrestler Narsingh Yadav, has shaken the Indian sporting community by testing positive for a banned steroid. In an out-of-competition test conducted by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) in Sonipat a few weeks ago, Narsingh tested positive for methandienone, a substance known for boosting muscle growth but not known to be beneficial, particularly for an accomplished wrestler. The test result comes soon after the highly publicised feud between Narsingh and two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar for the 74 kg freestyle berth for the Rio de Janeiro Games. Narsingh, who had bagged the quota place by virtue of winning the Worlds medal last September, retained the spot only after the battle reached the Delhi High Court. If found guilty by the NADA disciplinary panel, the 26-year-old may face a four-year suspension under the anti-doping code. That would automatically throw one of India’s brightest medal prospects out of next month’s Olympics.

The claims of ‘sabotage’ and ‘conspiracy’ have turned the waters murky. Narsingh’s room-mate Sandeep Yadav also returning a positive for methandienone, and Narsingh’s clean track record for over a decade are being cited in his defence. The merits of these claims are best left to the disciplinary panel to judge. But the incident has once again brought to the fore India’s rather lackadaisical approach towards keeping sport clean. It seems the country has forever been playing catch-up in bringing transparency in anti-doping measures. India wasn’t even a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code until December 2004. The National Dope Testing Laboratory was established in New Delhi in 1990 but was accredited by WADA only in 2008. In this intervening period, every positive drug test could be contested in court, a convenient alibi for any athlete or administrator to cover up wrongdoing. When three women from the victorious 2010 Commonwealth 4x400m relay team tested positive and were handed one-year sentences by NADA, the International Association of Athletics Federations had to intervene against what it perceived as lenient punishment. Interestingly, coach Yuri Ogorodnik of Ukraine, who was fired after being accused of providing food supplements that were not sanctioned by the Sports Authority of India, was reappointed last year. A WADA report for 2013 had placed India third in the world in terms of doping offences. Now that reports of another athlete, the shot putter Inderjeet Singh, testing positive have emerged, the sense of déjà vu is heavy.

Keywords: Doping row, Narsingh Yadav, steroids, WADA, Rio Olympics 2016

Read this opinion at : Back under a doping cloud
Source: The Hindu – Editorials

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