At the pre-event press conference, president of the the Punjab Wrestling Association Kartar Singh raked up a controversy when he accussed wrestler Jaskanwar Gill of missing the ongoing Senior National Championships in Jalandhar due to the ‘fear of failing a dope test.’
Gill, in his response, posted a video in which he challenged Singh to test him anytime and if he fails the test, he would pay Rs 20 lakh and apologise in writing. If his test comes negative, then he wants Singh to apologise and give him the same amount of money.
Turns out, Gill could not have been tested even if he had participated in the tournament. The National Anti-Doping Agency has not sent a team to test the wresters competing in the Nationals Championships at the Punjab Armed Police complex.
“We informed them of the tournament in advance and they still did not send a team. It is not acceptable,” Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Saran Singh said.
“Since it’s an Olympic year, they [players] should be tested at all competitions.”
More than 700 wrestlers are competing in the men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman categories including stars like Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Seema Bisla, Amit Dahiya, Sajan Bhanwala.
When contacted, Nada director general Navin Agarwal expressed surprised that the National Championships were already in progress.
“What National Championships are happening?” Agarwal asked. “When are they ending? I was not aware of this tournament.”
Agarwal later defend Nada team’s absence in Jalandhar saying that the wrestlers were anyway being tested regularly.
“These athletes are tested through the year,” he said. “We test them in camps and out of competition. We thought it was not necessary to test them so close after those tests.”
India is ranked third on the list of countries with most dope-offenders. Earlier this year, Indian wrestler Reena tested positive at the U23 Asian Championships and was banned for four years. Before the Rio Olympics in 2016, Narsingh Yadav was banned by World Anti-Doping Agency for four years after failing a dope test.
WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said Nada was informed of the competition schedule beforehand and it was their duty to be present.
“The Nada asked for the schedule just 15 days back,” Tomar said. “At the Annual Calendar of Training and Competition meeting, the discussion about Nada’s presence at national championships is included in the minutes of the meeting.
“It’s not possible that they do not know about when a competition is happening. Everything is online. They did not come to the junior and cadet National Championships earlier this year as well.”
As far as Gill is concerned, Kartar Singh has not replied to his challenge but the Punjab wrestling community has rallied behind Gill, a popular wrestler in dangal circles, once his video was shared by hundreds.