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Wrestling

Explained: Bajrang Punia vs NADA and the dope test controversy

Bajrang Punia has been banned by the NADA for refusing a dope test. The wrestler refuted the claim.

Explained: Bajrang Punia vs NADA and the dope test controversy
X

Wrestler Bajrang Punia. (FILE PHOTO)

By

Pritish Raj

Updated: 12 May 2024 10:08 AM GMT

With two bans in the space of two weeks, Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia's road to the 2024 Paris Olympics looks done and dusted.

The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist was first banned by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for refusing to submit his urine sample for testing and then United World Wrestling banned him for the same.

The wrestler explained his side of the story on the social media platform X and claimed that he never refused to provide urine samples.

The whole drama started with NADA banning Bajrang Punia on 23rd April after serving a whereabouts failure notice on April 18. The reason provided was that he refused to submit a urine sample for the dope test at the Olympic selection trials in Sonepat in March.

While the Doping Control Officer claimed that Bajrang left the venue immediately, the wrestler said he went to get his knee treated by the doctor present at the SAI centre.

What exactly happened in Sonepat?

The men's freestyle selection trials for Olympic qualifiers were held in Sonepat on March 10 and Bajrang was participating in the tournament.

Playing in the 65 kg category, Bajrang lost in the semifinals against Rohit Kumar and was not in contention for the final selection.

After losing his match, Bajrang left the wrestling hall immediately while DCO and the media waited for him. When asked where he went, one of the coaches said he had gone to consult the doctor.

When the third and fourth place match of 65kg was called, a medical certificate was submitted citing the reason behind Bajrang's absence.

The claim made by Bajrang that he went to consult an SAI doctor was right and the submission of the medical report too. Bajrang also reminded the DCOs about the expired kits he was given for his previous tests in December last year.

The sample for testing could have been collected after Bajrang's medical report as NADA considers medical treatment as a valid delay for the testing.

"The dope controlling officer should have accompanied me till I submitted my medical report to the competition manager as per protocol, rather than leaving in a hurry in the middle of the trials, to record my refusal," Bajrang wrote on X.

What is the expired kit fiasco?

Being an international medallist, Bajrang Punia is part of the Registered Testing Pool (RTP) of NADA.

The athletes who are part of the RTP have to inform NADA about their whereabouts every quarter, update accurate information, and make themselves available for testing whenever required.

During one such visit by NADA officials to Bajrang's home in December 2023, the officials carried the testing kits which were outdated and the expiry date went back to March 2023.

On 13th December, Bajrang posted a video about expiry kits being carried to his house for testing. He later said that this instance happened twice and when the third time dope control officials came, they had insufficient equipment.

What's next?

While NADA has done its part of banning Bajrang for failing to cooperate with the doping test, the wrestler will have his right to appeal in front of the Anti-Doping Appeal Panel.

Whatever the final decision comes out to be, the pathway for the 2024 Paris Olympics looks tough for the seasoned wrestler.

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