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India names Parveen Rana as Rio replacement for 'sabotaged' wrestler Yadav

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav's allegations of 'sabotage' after failing a dope test gained grounds but his Olympic hopes receded further with the country protectively naming a replacement for him at next month's Rio Games.

The United Wrestling Federation (UWF) has confirmed in a statement that Parveen Rana will compete in men's 74kg freestyle at Rio, replacing Yadav whose samples from an out-of-competition test returned positive for a banned steroid.

Yadav, who will appear before a National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) panel later on Wednesday, has lodged a police complaint against a junior wrestler accusing him of contaminating his food at the Sports Authority of India training centre in Sonepat.

"We at the federation also believe that he has been a victim of conspiracy and the person behind it has also been identified," Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told Reuters.

"The UWF gave us until July 25 to announce a replacement or vacate the qualification spot.

"So the immediate task was to protect the spot. If we did not name a replacement, even Narsingh, provided he gets a clean chit, won't be able to compete at Rio.

"At least, we are now sure of sending someone in the event."

Yadav secured India a berth at the Games by winning a bronze medal at last year's world championships in Las Vegas.

The 26-year-old, however, had his Olympic berth in jeopardy when Sushil Kumar, who won bronze in the 66kg category in Beijing in 2008 and silver in London, moved up a weight and sought a court order for a bout between the pair to determine who should go to Rio.

Last month, the Delhi High Court ruled against Kumar, the only Indian athlete to win two individual Olympic medals, clearing the way for Yadav to compete in Rio.

Yadav was provided police security, a rare measure for an Indian athlete, at the Sonepat training centre due to possible threats to his life.

Asked if it meant end of Yadav's dreams to compete at Rio, Tomar said: "If he manages to get a clean chit from NADA, we'd approach the governing body to allow him to compete there."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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