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Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia provisionally suspended by NADA

Published at :May 5, 2024 at 2:36 PM
Modified at :May 5, 2024 at 2:36 PM
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(Courtesy : @ddsportschannel/X)

Ajay Gandhar

Star wrestler skipped sample during trials.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia’s road to the 2024 Paris Games has hit a major stumbling block after the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) provisionally suspended him for refusing to provide a dope sample during the wrestling trials in Sonepat on March 10.

The 30-year-old star grappler left the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonepat in a hurry after being eliminated from the trials. When NADA officials attempted to collect his sample for dope testing as per protocol, Punia refused to comply and stormed off the premises without providing his urine sample.

According to sources accessed by India Today, NADA was required to inform the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) about the athlete’s refusal to take the test. After deliberations, WADA instructed NADA to issue a notice to Punia asking him to explain his actions by May 7.

However, Punia is yet to respond to the notice. Consequently, NADA has now provisionally suspended him citing violations of the National Anti-Doping Rules 2021.

The suspension comes as a major blow to Punia’s hopes of securing a place in the Indian wrestling contingent for the Paris Olympics. With no Indian having won a quota yet in the 65kg category, the trials slated from 31st May were crucial for Punia to stake his claim. If the charges against him are upheld, he could miss out on these all-important selection trials.

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Punia had previously raised concerns over the alleged use of “expired” dope collection kits by NADA, prompting his refusal during the trials. The dope control officer’s report, however, stated that Punia left the venue despite being warned of the consequences of not providing a sample.

As it stands, Punia’s hopes of representing India at the Paris Olympics hang in the balance, pending the outcome of NADA’s disciplinary proceedings against him.

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