Rohit Yadav – Weaving Youth Olympics dreams after doping horror

The news of the Anti-Doping Appeal Panel (ADDP) dismissing National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA) plea seeking further punishment of young Rohit Yadav, has been a reprieve for the young javelin thrower from Juanpur, Uttar Pradesh. 17-year-old Rohit, who was battling depression for the past one year has now found a new lease of life as he is set to take to the field in the 2018 Youth Olympics Games in Argentina’s Buenos Aires that will be held in October.

“It was my dream to represent my country in the Youth Olympics Games. The past one year has been a real tough time for my family and me. I had given up on my hope to make it big again. However, this news has rejuvenated my hopes, and I am pretty excited to be back in the contention for the Youth Olympics,” said Rohit Yadav to The Bridge.

Tested Positive of the presence of a banned substance

Rohit, a 2016 World School Games gold medallist, who clinched a silver medal at the second Asian Youth Athletics Championships 2017 in Bangkok, was almost stripped off his medal after he was tested positive for the presence of ‘stanozolol’.

He set a new meet record with a personal-best throw of 76.11m to clinch the gold medal in the 14th National Youth Athletics Championships in Hyderabad in April 2017. His urine sample was collected by the NADA team during this meet after he won the gold, the report of which came positive a month later on May 23, 2017.

“I was in my hostel in Allahabad before the tournament in Hyderabad, where I think the banned substance was mixed with my food or water,” said Rohit, claiming that he was not aware of it beforehand.

Rohit’s Plea

After Rohit was notified about the doping violation, he and his family had pleaded leniency as he was a minor and further claimed that he did not know as to how the banned substance was detected in his body.

The disciplinary panel comprising chairman Rajeev Kapoor, Poonam Chopra and Dr LK Gupta used its “judicial discretion” and gave him a reduced period of ineligibility of one year as he was a minor. However, NADA appealed against this decision as it felt that the athlete failed to establish any grounds for elimination or reduction of the ineligibility period. It said that “the plea taken by the athlete is liable to be rejected out-rightly and the maximum sanction of four years may be imposed”.

Present development

While the stipulated time limit to file an appeal was 21 days, NADA took over six months. The suspension order was given on August 28, 2017, whereas it filed the petition in April this year.

ADDP, chaired by JRV Easwar, on May 21 dismissed NADA’s appeal on the grounds of limitation as well on merits. Yadav’s counsel Parth Goswami successfully argued that the appeal process was time-barred as per NADA’s anti-doping rules 2015. Goswami further explained that the appeal deserved to be dismissed since the athlete was rightly given the benefit of ‘No Significant Fault or Negligence’ as a minor under the rules is not required to show how the prohibitive substance entered his system.

Rohit who sounds all positive after the conclusion of this fiasco feels motivated to taste success. “The news has given me a new life today. I barely imagined that I would be participating in the Youth Olympics Games. It was a setback to my morale, and I could hardly practice. Now I have regained my confidence back and is dedicatedly slogging hard out in the field to prepare for the Games in October.

Rohit, who is now staying at his village in Juanpur, wakes up early morning every single day and goes into the field with his new javelin which was arranged by his father’s friend Bhasker Desai. Rohit’s father, 62-year-old Sabhajeet Yadav, is a farmer, who has his share of fame a well-known amateur runner. He has been a podium finisher in the Mumbai Marathon for few years in his age category. One of his projects has been training his son, Rohit. Unable to afford a modern javelin, Rohit learned with a homemade one. The news of Rohit’s suspension had come as a big blow to his family. With the suspension of NADA’s plea, smile has returned on their faces.

“Despite being poor, today I have got the necessary support owing to my father’s association with sports. He has some go earned some good friends who came forward to help me fuel my dreams,” said Rohit.

Most recently, at the Uttar Pradesh State Youth Games, Rohit Yadav broke the national record for Under 18 with a throw of 78.53m! The boy apparently has a long road to go and, undoubtedly, his work ethic will see him through.

Rohit, who idolises Neeraj Chopra – the Commonwealth Games gold-medallist javelin thrower – says he wishes to see Neeraj taking his throw some day. Right now, Rohit, the under-18 national champion is weaving bigger dreams of outperforming everyone in the Youth Olympics 2018 and hopes he can also represent the country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.