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Bajrang Punia says he never refused to provide dope sample

Bajrang Punia says he never refused to provide dope sample

New Delhi: Bajrang Punia, an Olympic wrestler, has stated that he declined to submit urine samples during the Sonepat selection trials in March because the dope control officials did not provide sufficient evidence that they were carrying the necessary equipment to perform the tests.

The Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medallist said he had only demanded an explanation from the officials as on one of the two previous occasions, they (NADA officials) had come with expired kits while during other times, they appeared with only one testing kit as opposed to the mandatory three.

Bajrang, one of the country's most successful wrestlers, was suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) on April 23 after being served a whereabouts failure notice on April 18.

On Thursday, wrestling's world governing body UWW also suspended him till the end of this year following NADA's decision to hand him a provisional suspension for refusing to undergo a dope test on March 10 in Sonepat.

"This is to clarify that, I have at no stage refused to give my sample for doping control.

On 10 March 2024, when I was approached by alleged doping control officials, I merely reminded them that the last two times they came to collect my sample, they had gotten expired kits once," wrote Bajrang on 'X'.

"And on the other instance, they had approached me with a single testing kit as opposed to the three testing kits," added Bajrang, who has been at the forefront of a protracted agitation against former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The grappler, who competes in the 65 kg category, said he had sought an answer from the Dope Control Officers (DCO) on March 10 on why NADA was not responding to his queries regarding two previous lapses, but he got no explanation.

"I then sought an answer from them (DCOs) as the NADA did not provide an answer to any of my communications demanding an explanation for the same and informed them that I would give my sample upon receiving such explanation from them."

"Not only did the doping control officials refuse to provide an explanation, they did not provide me any proof on this instance of them carrying proper equipment and merely left from the venue where I was at, claiming it to be a refusal from my end," added Bajrang.

Bajrang added that contrary to reports that he left the venue immediately, he was present for almost one hour after the dope control officials had approached him for the sample.

"I continued to be at the venue as I had another bout scheduled for 3/4 position. After my semifinal bout, I met the SAI (Sports Authority of India) doctor at the venue for treatment regarding a knee injury suffered during the semifinals of the Wrestling Trials.”

"I only left the venue about an hour after the alleged doping control officials approached me, contrary to how it has been portrayed that I left immediately," added Bajrang.

He also alleged that the DCOs had not followed the norms which mandated them to stay till such time a wrestler submitted his medical report to the competition manager.

"The dope controlling officer should have accompanied me till I submitted my medical report to the competition manager as per protocol, rather than leaving in a hurry in middle of the trials, to record my refusal."

"Even if this incident is treated as refusal, the fact that it was due to NADA using expired kits and not providing an explanation for using them, or giving me comfort, that they had not carried expired kits again, should be considered as a compelling justification."

"I took such a stance solely because of the NADAs actions in the past, which, in the absence an explanation, could continue a dangerous trend of the use of expired kits or non-compliance with doping control protocol.

"It is my moral obligation towards the wrestling community and particularly the younger wrestlers, that I exercised here," he added.

With PTI inputs

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TAGS:WrestlingBajrang Punia
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