NADA Suspends Wrestler Bajrang Punia for Failure to Provide Dope Test
NADA Suspends Wrestler Bajrang Punia for Failure to Provide Dope Test

New Delhi: The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has indefinitely suspended wrestler Bajrang Punia, a move that could potentially jeopardize his bid to compete in the Paris Olympics scheduled for later this year. Punia failed to provide his urine sample for the selection trials in Sonepat on March 10, leading NADA to issue the order suspending him from participation in any future events.

"Subject to paragraph 4:1:2 below and in accordance with article 7.4 of the NADR 2021, Bajrang Punia has been immediately provisionally suspended from participation in any competition or activity prior to the final decision reached at a hearing in this matter," read an official release from NADA dated April 23. Accompanied by other top wrestlers, including Olympians Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, Punia accused former BJP MP and president of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, of sexual harassment.

Following his suspension in light of the charges, Punia, who won a bronze medal for the country at the Tokyo Olympics, is likely to be barred from participating in the selection trials scheduled for later this month. No Indian has yet secured an Olympic quota in the 65kg category. Sujeet Kalkal will represent India at the World Qualifiers, set to begin in Istanbul on May 9. The suspension notice was addressed to the Wrestling Federation of India's (WFI) now-defunct ad hoc committee, as opposed to the federation recognized by United World Wrestling (UWW).

Punia, who released a video a few months prior claiming to have received expired dope-collecting kits, disregarded the dope control officer's directive, stating that NADA officials had not yet addressed his concerns. According to the dope-collecting officer's report, Punia left even after being informed that his refusal would result in a warning for violating anti-doping rules. "Punia, surrounded by his supporters, continuously repeated his statement and immediately left the venue, refusing to give a dope sample," the DCO stated in his report.

Punia was asked to present a written justification by May 7 for his refusal to submit supporting documentation and a urine sample. "If you do accept the consequences, the case will be resolved without further disciplinary proceedings, subject to the right of appeal. If you disagree, the matter will be referred for adjudication to the anti-doping disciplinary panel," the letter stated.

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