Indian wrestling is back in the spotlight with Tokyo Olympics-bound grappler Sumit Malik failing a dope test. According to a report by the Indian Express, the United World Wrestling (UWW) on Thursday provisionally suspended the wrestler who tested positive for a banned substance.
The name of the athlete was initially withheld by the federation pending a second sample test but multiple reports have emerged, with Sumit Malik being named as the athlete.
Eight Indian wrestlers had confirmed their participation for the Tokyo Olympics, which is set to start on July 23. However, the latest development has placed the concerned person’s participation in doubt.
28-year-old Sumit Malik, who competes in the 125kg category, is an established figure in the world of wrestling and wasconferred the Arjuna Award in 2018.
We’re investigating the matter, says Indian federation
When Sportskeeda initially reached out to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the governing body said they were investigating the matter. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), however, declined to comment on the matter. But our sources have now confirmed that the athlete in question is indeed Sumit Malik.
This is not the first doping crisis to hit Indian wrestling.
According to the country’s anti-doping agency report of 2019-20, wrestling was the third highest anti-doping rule violator after athletics and weightlifting. The sport, considered one of India's best bets for multiple medals at the Tokyo Games, had accounted for 12 rule violations during the said period. The latest incident will further tarnish the image of wrestling in the country and might even hamper the preparation of wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, who are expected to win medals in Tokyo.
Sumit Malik's failed dope test is another big blow to the sporting federation, who were already under pressure after one of its controversial stars, Sushil Kumar, was accused of murdering a junior compatriot. The 38-year-old two-time Olympic medalist, who had been on the run, was apprehended a few days back.
Sumit Malik not the first Indian wrestler to dope
This is the second time an Indian wrestler has failed a drug test prior to the Games. In 2016, Narsingh Yadav, who had won a quota in the 74kg category, failed the dope test prior to the Rio Olympics. The wrestler, however, maintained that he was innocent and it was Sushil Kumar who had spiked his drink.
While NADA cleared him of all charges, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) slapped him with a four-year ban and he was not allowed to participate in the 2016 Games. Narsingh Yadav made a return to wrestling last year but failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. According to Sportskeeda's sources, the Indian federation is currently waiting for Sumit Malik's second sample to turn positive before confirming the news.
"Sumit Malik has failed the test. Its just disappointing so close to the Olympics our wrestler failed the dope test. We think its due to the medication he took while recovering from injury he suffered at World Qualifiers at Sofia," WFI Official said."Next report will come by June 10. We just hope it comes in our favour"
Sumit Malik's ban is bound to upset the rhythm of the Indian wrestling camp who are all set to take part in the Poland World Ranking Series.