Five Indian wrestlers and their coach are likely to face punishment after they made testing authorities wait at last month's Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi.
The wrestlers (Harpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Ravinder, Hardeep, and Naveen) were asked to provide urine samples on the eve of the continental competition at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex. It was reported that the wrestlers and their coach Kuldeep Singh made the authorities wait until late at night to carry out the tests.
Harpreet Singh won a bronze medal in the 80 kilograms category at the championships that ran from May 8 to 12, as India finished with 10 medals in total.
According to media reports, the five samples all returned negative results along with 49 other tests conducted during the event. An Indian coach disclosed that the authorities had come exactly at the time of weigh-ins and added it was 10.30pm when they could submit the samples since the wrestlers drain their body completely for the weigh-in.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) was in charge of testing athletes as part of their program for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) of India remarked they will be investigating the case. NADA director general Naveen Agarwal reportedly claimed they will not take any immediate action. In a statement, NADA said ASADA or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in particular have not suggested that NADA pursue potential violations against the coach. The statement further reads that it is however a general rule if any athlete or coach tries to disrupt the anti-doping process, action is to be taken by NADA and also commented that we will pursue the matter with concerned federations so that necessary action is taken against concerned person.
Indian weightlifting is not new to doping controversies. In 2010, four Indian wrestlers, including Rajiv Tomar, and a shot-putter were suspended from Commonwealth Games on home soil after failing drug tests. All five tested positive for Methylhexaneamine, a banned stimulant used widely as a nasal decongestant. Three male wrestlers, Tomar, Sumit Kumar and Masuam Khatri, female wrestler Gursharanpreet Kaur and male shot-putter Saurav Vij were then suspended pending results of B samples.
This incident was only a year later after the world governing body of weightlifting asked the Indian Weightlifting Federation to pay a fine of $500,000 (£323,000) after six lifters failed dope tests. This was after several of its top lifters, including Shailaja Pujari failed drugs tests.
Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav had also failed a drugs test two weeks before the Rio Games started. The Commonwealth Games gold medalist who qualified for the Rio Olympics in the 74-kilogram freestyle category tested positive for a banned steroid during routine testing. The list goes on as show-cause notices were issued by the Wrestling Federation of India to four wrestlers, including the Phogat sisters – Babita Kumari and Geeta – for indiscipline. Sumit (men's 125kg freestyle) and Rahul Aware (men's 57kg freestyle) were also temporarily banned. Assistant WFI secretary Vinod Tomar had then remarked that four of them have been handed temporary suspension and are debarred from taking part in the Olympic qualification event in Istanbul.
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