Has Narsingh Yadav become the victim of the powerful wrestling lobby and the politics of sports organizations? Has he paid the price for the rivalry between the lobbies led by Guru Satpal and Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, the president of the Indian Wrestling Federation? If that is the case, it is really unfortunate. No one except Narsingh Yadav will be the loser in this dirty game. A possible Olympics medal might slip out of his hands and it may even be the end of the road for him as a sportsperson.
It is surprising that besides Narsingh (who was to go to Rio), his roommate Sandeep (who wasn’t) has also been caught using a banned drug. The drug that these sportspersons allegedly used is generally taken by bodybuilders and is of little use to the wrestlers. According to experts in sports medicine the drug Narsingh is supposed to have taken gives no advantage to wrestlers and at the Olympics level, it is of absolutely no use. It is also surprising that Narsingh, who never failed 35-40 doping tests he underwent, has tested positive. He was subjected to doping test three times in the last one month alone and cleared all of them.
After Narsingh tested positive in his latest doping test, all members of his team unanimously termed it a conspiracy. His support staff, coach Jagmal Singh and doctors say that the promising sportsperson might have become the victim of a conspiracy. It is rather unbelievable that a person who had struggled so hard, even fought a legal battle, to find a place in the Olympics team, denied to him even after winning bronze in world championship, would commit such a folly. Narsingh had been working hard for the past ten years for this day. When his claim had been upheld, why would he take a drug just before leaving for Rio – and that too a drug that would logically and medically give no advantage to him?
The IB and CID had information that Narsingh may be physically assaulted in Haryana in the wake of Narsingh-Sushil rivalry. The intelligence inputs had been forwarded to IG, CID, Chandigarh. On security grounds, it was even suggested that the national camp should be shifted elsewhere. Narsingh was also informed of the threat to his life and was advised to train somewhere else. But in view of the impending Olympics, Narsingh, who works for the Maharashtra Police, decided to train in the Sonepat camp, which is in the zone of influence of Guru Satpal. But no one imagined that such a mean conspiracy would be hatched against him – a conspiracy that will remain a black spot in the sports history of India.
It is being said that during the interrogation, the cook of the hostel has admitted that he used to spike the meals with drugs. In this context, the role of a woman in the SAI camp is also under the scanner. But what is important to know is on whose instructions the cook was doing this. Also, why adequate arrangements were not made to protect the sportspersons from any kind of conspiracy and mischief in this Olympics-level camp? It is believed that as many big names have been found to be involved in this conspiracy, the details are being kept under wraps.
This incident also shows the lackadaisical arrangements even in camps meant for international-level sportspersons and also how insecure and vulnerable our top sportspersons are. It is also a pointer to the corruption in our sports bodies.
A million-dollar question is, if Narsingh is demanding a CBI probe into the affair, why is it being opposed and who are those opposing it? A probe would reveal which other sportspersons have become victims of such conspiracies in the past. The truth must be told so that at least Narsingh is freed from the stigma. Some people are asking why Narsingh was subjected to a doping test for the third time in the past one month. Was it also part of the conspiracy? Were the samples tampered with as during in a recent scandal in Russia?
Most importantly, is Vijay Goel, the union minister for sports, soft-pedalling the issue because he needs the support of the Satpal-Sushil duo in his Delhi politics? Whose prestige is at stake in this controversy?
The acquaintances of Guru Satpal and Sushil are witness to how bitter and upset they have been for the past two to three months. This was the reaction of Satpal-Sushil after Narsingh getting caught for doping. On July 24 @WrestlerSushil tweeted, “Respect is to be earned not demanded. Jai Hind!!” Shaurya Bajpai (@DrShaurya) responded with: “@WrestlerSushil Even if this unfortunate incident is true, you should not have taken this cheap shot. Narsingh Yadav was representing India.”
On the same day, Guru Satpal issued a statement: “The Sports Ministry and the Wrestling Federation are to decide about the replacement. Sushil is ready.” @WrestlerSushil tweeted on July 25, “Very unfortunate 2 see the Wrestling go through this. I hv given my life to it & wl always support fellow wrestlers.”
But with this tweet is attached the video of Sushil Kumar in which he is heard saying: “After winning two medals, I wanted to bring a third one for the country. But for the last one month, I’ve been keeping away from preparations for Olympics and supporting my fellow wrestlers, and I hope they will win medals for the country.”
There are reports that after Narsingh got caught for doping, Satpal remarked that “this was bound to happen”, as if he knew everything beforehand. Both the contents and the language of the reactions of Satpal-Suhsil to this shocking incident are insensitive, to say the least. They also seem to be taking a dig at Narsingh and making fun of him.
It is unfortunate that while climbing the ladder of success, Sushil became victim of ego and obsession and the duo of father-in-law and son-in-law, known for their meanness, intrigues and aggressive postures, made Narsingh, the son of a poor, toiling family, the victim of their antics. Just like Eklavya, whose thumb was severed or Abhimanyu, who was killed in the battlefield after being surrounded by great warriors, Narsingh, who was trying to touch new heights, rising from his humble beginnings through his struggle, became the victim of the neo-feudal urban elite. They will never be able to make good the damage they have done. Despite this controversy and the talk of conspiracy, Narsingh – a simple, sentimental person – is still practising at the SAI centre in Sonepat under the pictures of his icons Sushil and Yogeshwar. Obviously, they remain his heroes.
In fact this incident is not only about sports. It is also about the casteist society of India, falling standards of politics, and icons of different fields turning into brands in the globalized, market-oriented system. There is no escaping from them. In 2016, a conspiracy is hatched against Narsingh, the son of an OBC family, and K.D. Jadhav, a Dalit, who had won the bronze medal in wrestling in 1952 in the Helsinki Olympics, becoming the first individual medal-winner for India, has been all but forgotten. He has not been honoured to date. Praveen Rana (a Rajput) will be going to Rio in place of Narsingh Yadav. Is this the caste dynamics of sports?