NEW DELHI: India’s wrestling body on Monday threw its support behind Rio-bound competitor Narsingh Yadav who claimed his supplements and water were contaminated after he tested positive for a banned steroid.
India is still deciding whether to withdraw Yadav from its squad, less than two weeks before the Olympics begin in Rio, amid turmoil over a decision to allow Russia to compete despite state-sanctioned doping.
Yadav, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the 74-kilogram freestyle category, appeared before a hearing on Saturday to present his case after failing the routine drugs test.
India, which has a dismal medal record at the Olympics, is ranked third on a global list of doping offenders compiled by the World Anti-Doping Agency, behind Russia and Italy.
After Yadav protested his innocence, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) urged authorities to allow the 26-year-old to compete at the Games starting on August 5.
“The federation believes Narsingh is innocent,” WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh told reporters.
“I will try my level best to help Narsingh get out of this problem so that he can represent India in the Olympics and win a medal.
“It is our duty to protect Narsingh and all our wrestlers. Narsingh’s record is clean.”
Yadav insisted he was the victim of “foul play” ahead of another hearing with National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) officials on Wednesday to decide his fate.
“I believe that there is foul play involved in this entire episode. Someone has sabotaged my food supplements and water intake,” Yadav said in a statement late Sunday.
“I am a responsible athlete with an understanding of the country’s expectations and hopes on me. I would never dream of betraying that hope.”
Sports minister Vijay Goel said Yadav has been suspended pending NADA’s decision.
Russia on Sunday escaped a blanket ban on its athletes competing in Rio after the International Olympic Committee left it to individual sports federations to make a call on their participation.