Bajrang Punia provisionally suspended for ‘refusing to submit urine sample’

Wrestler gives his version

NEW DELHI: On the day a media report said that Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia was provisionally suspended from participation in any competition for a dope violation, the wrestler took to social media to give his defence.

In a post on X, Punia said that when the dope control officer came to collect his sample in March, he asked them to first provide an explanation over the use of expired kits for his out-of-competition test in December. Bajrang said he was ready to give his sample after they replied to his earlier complaint.

Bajrang’s post on social media came after it was reported that the NADA had provisionally suspended him for not agreeing to submit a urine sample during the trials at the Sports Authority of India centre in Sonipat on March 10. The Tribune reported that Bajrang was “immediately provisionally suspended from participation in any competition or activity prior to the final decision reached at a hearing in this matter,” according to the notice issued to the wrestler.

Though Bajrang lost the 65kg trials and Sujeet Kalal will represent India at the World Qualifiers for the Paris Olympics to be held from May 9, the provisional suspension could jeopardise the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal winner’s prospects of another shot at the Summer Games. The winner of the Olympic quota will have to beat the winner of another national trials to book a Paris berth, a Wrestling Federation of India official confirmed.

“I want to clarify the news about me being asked to take a dope test!!! I never refused to give my sample to NADA officials, I requested them to first answer me as to what action they took on the expired kit they brought to take my sample (earlier) and then take my dope test. My lawyer Vidush Singhania will reply to this letter in time,” Bajrang posted on X.

The expired kits incident is from December when NADA officials had gone to collect samples from Bajrang. Bajrang had posted a video in which he claimed that kits being used were beyond expiry date.

“This is a very important video for all of us to watch and ponder over. How can one trust the system if the process is not followed. How can one be sure that there is no manipulation in the entire process,’ Bajrang was heard saying in the video.

Bajrang’s lawyer Vidushpat Singhania said: “We need to access the case file. We will be filing a reply to the NADA notice soon.”

A clip posted by Olympic medal-winner Bajrang Punia on social media where he claims that the doping kits were expired.A clip posted by Olympic medal-winner Bajrang Punia on social media where he claims that the doping kits were expired. (Screengrabs via Bajrang Punia X)

WFI president Sanjay Singh said that the federation had not yet received a copy of the NADA notification that provisionally suspended Bajrang.

Bajrang will have to appear before a disciplinary panel when the hearing begins, a process that could take weeks if not months to complete.

According to the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Code, ‘Refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification as authorized in applicable anti-doping rules or otherwise evading sample collection is an anti-doping rule violation.’

At the trials in Sonipat, Bajrang had lost to Rohit 9-3 in the semifinal. Post the loss, he left the venue immediately and didn’t return for the third-fourth placings bout.

Bajrang was one of the key members of the protests against former Wrestling Federation of India president and BJP MP Brig Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment by six women wrestlers.

Brij Bhushan has been found liable for prosecution for sexual harassment, molestation and stalking of women wrestlers in a Delhi Police chargesheet.

During the WFI elections in December Sanjay Singh, the six-time MP’s close aide, had been elected to the post. The result saw Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik quit wrestling, while world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat returned her Khel Ratna and Arjuna award and Bajrang returned his Padma Shri.


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