Rio Olympics 2016: Will Sushil Kumar go to Brazil after Narsingh Yadav's doping fiasco?
The morning of Sunday, 24th July had brought with it the crushing news of freestyle wrestler Narsingh Yadav failing a random dope test conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) earlier this month at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Sonepat, Haryana.
As soon as the official confirmation by the regulatory body was shared with the general masses, speculations regarding the alternative option for India’s representation in the 74kg category of men’s freestyle wrestling began doing the rounds.
Quite expectedly, Sushil Kumar’s name sprang to the fore once again, given how the two-time Olympic medallist had urged the Federation to grant him an opportunity to prove his eligibility for the wrestling event at Rio 2016.
It was not too long ago that the country’s most successful Olympian had dragged the matter to court seeking selection trials to pick the best candidate for the upcoming Olympics – something that led to a nationwide divide since Narsingh was the winner of India’s quota with a bronze medal at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships and he had already secured his berth as per the prevalent norms.
At the moment, Narsingh has been held back by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) from heading to Georgia with his fellow wrestlers for their last lap of preparations before the Rio Olympics. As they investigate deeper, Narsingh has asserted that he is innocent and it might be the result of foul play by his adversaries that his samples have tested positive for the prohibited steroid methandienone.
Sushil, on the other hand, didn’t shy away from commenting on the situation as was apparent from his Twitter update:
Respect is to be earned not demanded. l Jai Hind!!— Sushil Kumar (@WrestlerSushil) July 24, 2016
His mentor Satpal Singh went further ahead to assure the media that Sushil would readily step up to fill in the void that’s created once Narsingh is banned from participating in the Rio Olympics.
That brings us to raging question of whether the veteran wrestler has any likelihood of competing in his fourth Games this year, provided Narsingh’s ban is confirmed. Irrespective of the available contenders for the 74kg freestyle wrestling spot, India will lose the very quota in question because of the dishonourable offence committed by its representative athlete.
Even if we were to bypass that bit of restriction somehow, it should be noted that the 18th of July was the last date for all countries to send in their final list of participating Olympians for the 2016 edition. Since it’s already a week past the deadline, it is almost certain that with Narsingh’s disqualification, no Indian wrestler will be going to Rio this year to take part in the 74kg Men’s Freestyle Wrestling.
Edit: The governing body of amateur wrestling, United World Wrestling (UWW), have come out with a statement saying that India's 74kg quota will remain intact even if Narsingh is barred from travelling to Rio, unless the country is unable to fill in the vacant spot. In that case, Sushil would have a very high chance of going in Narsingh's place, as he is the best available candidate after Narsingh.