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Bajrang Punia claims NADA used expired testing kits, shares old video as evidence

Bajrang Punia claims NADA used expired testing kits, shares old video as evidence

With his provisional ban, Sujeet Kalkal is set to represent India in the World Olympic Qualifiers in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 9.

Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has accused the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) of providing him with expired kits for his doping tests. The controversy erupted after reports surfaced on Sunday about his provisional suspension by NADA for not providing a urine sample during selection trials at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonipat on March 10.

This suspension, unless overturned, could prevent him from competing in the selection trials set for June, jeopardizing his hopes of securing a spot in the 65kg category for the Paris Olympics.

Why did Bajrang Punia refuse to take dope test

Bajrang Punia’s suspension created turmoil in the Indian wrestling scene. With his provisional ban, Sujeet Kalkal is set to represent India in the World Olympic Qualifiers in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 9. India has yet to secure a 2024 Paris Olympics quota in the 65kg weight category.

Responding to the suspension, Punia reposted an video on X (formerly Twitter), explaining his reasons for refusing to provide a sample during the trials in March. In the video, he stated that the DCO had given him expired kits for an out-of-competition test in December the previous year.

He said, “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 kits they brought to take my sample earlier and then take my dope test.”

Punia’s lawyer, Vidushpat Singhania, revealed plans to challenge the suspension in court. “We need to access the case file. We will be filing a reply to the NADA notice soon,” he said.

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Punia’s Paris Olympics dreams hang in balance

The wrestler’s Paris Olympic qualification process is now uncertain. Punia will have to appear before a disciplinary panel, and the hearing could take weeks or even months, which may further delay his preparations for the Olympics.

Interestingly, NADA issued the suspension letter to the now-dissolved ad-hoc committee, which managed wrestling after the United World Wrestling (UWW) banned the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The UWW lifted the ban on WFI in February. Bajrang Punia’s suspension adds to the complexities of Indian wrestling, where he and others like Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat protested against former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment allegations. As a sign of protest against the government’s perceived inaction, Bajrang returned his Padma Shri award, affecting his training and Olympic preparations.

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