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Bajrang Punia handed suspension by NADA, wrestler gets time to respond till July 11

New Delhi: The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has suspended Olympic medalist wrestler Bajrang Punia for anti-doping rule violation.
The wrestler's lawyer Vidushpat Singhania on Sunday also confirmed his suspension.
As per NADA, the wrestler had refused to provide his urine samples to the governing body as he had objected to the usage of allegedly "expired kits" by NADA and wanted a reply from the governing body regarding the same. Despite being warned by the Doping Control Officer (DCO) of the consequences of not submitting his urine sample, Bajrang still did not do the needful, added NADA.
"Chaperone/DCO had duly approached you and informed you that you were required to provide a urine sample for dope analysis purposes. Even after several requests made by the DCO, you had refused to provide your urine sample on the ground that you would not provide the sample unless NADA replies to your email regarding the issue of expired kits, which were used by the concerned DCO who had come to collect the sample of the Athlete for the dope test about two months ago. Following your refusal to submit to sample collection. the DCO of NADA had also explained to you in detail, about its consequences and outcomes under the NADR, 2021. Despite all efforts made by the DCO, you had refused to submit for the sample collection," said a document from NADA.
Bajrang has been given time till July 11 to respond to the notice.
"You have until 11.07.2024, to admit the asserted ADRV(s) (anti-doping rule violations), waive a hearing and accept the proposed Consequences by signing, dating and returning the acceptance of consequences form. enclosed with this letter," said the notice.
On if the violations done by Punia are upheld, NADA warned that consequences could be: "-Disqualification of results in the event during which the ADRV occurred, commission of the ADRV with all resulting consequences including forfeiture any medals, points and prizes. -A period of Ineligibility subject to potential elimination, reduction or suspend pursuant to Article 10 of the NADR of 4 years. -Automatic publication of sanction."
"Please note that any consequences shall have a binding effect on NADA, the Wrestling Federation of India as well as every signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code in all sports and countries," added NADA.
Notably, Punia was provisionally suspended by NADA on April 23 for allegedly refusing to provide a sample of his urine when a dope-control officer from NADA approached him after his bout at the selection trials for the Paris Olympics qualification tournament in Sonepat on March 10 this year.
Following this, the United World Wrestling (UWW) on April 25 said that a provisional ban has been imposed on the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist until December end this year.
The UWW back then, stated on Bajrang's profile on its website: "Suspended for the following reason until Dec 31, 2024. Provisionally suspended by NADO IND for alleged ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violation)."
Following the NADA suspension in April, Punia had tweeted in May that he had "never refused" to give his sample to NADA officials. The wrestler took to social media platform X to give a detailed explanation of the events that unfolded.
"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 and on the other instance, they had approached me with a single testing kit as opposed to the three testing kits," Punia wrote on X.
The Olympic medallist went on to state that he asked NADA for clarification but is yet to hear from them. He also claimed that the officials did not provide him with any proof that they carried "proper equipment" and left the venue claiming that he had refused to give them samples.
"I then sought an answer from them 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 an explanation from them. Not only did the doping control officials refuse to provide an explanation, but they did not provide me with 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," Punia stated.
According to the dope-collecting officer's report, Punia left even though he was informed that his refusal would result in a warning for breaking anti-doping rules.
Punia claimed that he had stayed for an hour at the venue after the officials approached him for the doping test. He also said that the officials left in the middle of the trials to "record" his refusal rather than accompanying him till he submitted his medical report to the competition manager.
"I continued to be at the venue as I had another bout scheduled for 3/4 position. After my semi-final bout, I met the SAI doctor at the venue for treatment regarding a knee injury suffered during the semi-finals 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. In fact, 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 the middle of the trials, to record my refusal," Punia added.
Bajrang explained that it was his "moral obligation" towards the wrestling community to raise his voice against the "dangerous" trend of expired kits being used for testing.
"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 NADA's actions in the past, which, in the absence of 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," Punia said.

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