Shuttler P V Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik scripted a new chapter in Indian Olympic history with their unprecedented feats but the embattled Narsingh Yadav’s dreams lay in tatters after being slapped with a four-year doping ban on a bitter-sweet day for the country at the Rio Games.
Sindhu made a historic entry into the final of badminton women’s singles event, hours after Sakshi had nailed the country’s first medal following 11 blank days in this Brazilian city.
However, in a stunning reversal of fortunes, controversial male wrestler Narsingh was ousted from the Games and slapped with a four-year ban for flunking a dope test after Court of Arbitration for Sports overturned the clean chit given to him by the National Anti-Doping Agency.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had appealed against the NADA all-clear to Narsingh at CAS, three days ahead of his scheduled opening bout at the Olympics.
“Narsingh Yadav was sanctioned with a four-year ineligibility period starting today and that any period of provisional suspension or ineligibility effectively served by the athlete before the entry into force of this award shall be credited against the total period of ineligibility to be served,” CAS said in a statement after the hearing, which lasted four hours last night.
“The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the victim of sabotage and noted that there was no evidence that he bore no fault, nor that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional. Therefore the standard 4-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel,” it added.
On the brighter side, the lanky Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, ensured at least a silver medal to add to the country’s near-empty kitty after Sakshi had captured the bronze in 58 kg women’s wrestling when she outclassed Japan’s world no. 6 Nozomi Okuhara with clinical perfection.
With yesterday’s brilliant show Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, went one better than her senior Saina Nehwal, bronze medal winner in London four years ago, and became the first ever Indian to enter the summit clash of the shuttle game in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Sindhu defeated her short-statured, third-seeded Japanese rival, the current All England champion, 21-19 21-10 in 49 minutes with superb, attacking play to enter tomorrow’s gold medal clash.
The Indian shuttler from Hyderabad, a two-time bronze medalist in World Championships, will meet Spain’s world no. 1 Carolina Marin, who ousted defending champion Li Xuerei of China in the first semi-final with a 21-14 21-16 victory, in the final.