Sat. May 25th, 2024

Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia — one of the leaders of athlete protests against the federation chief last year — has been provisionally suspended by the national anti-doping agency (NADA) for allegedly avoiding a drug test.

Punia, who won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, faces a two-year ban for refusing to provide a urine sample to doping control officers at a recent selection trial.

“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,” reports cited a NADA statement as saying.

The document was dated April 23 but only emerged at the weekend.

According to Indian media, Punia was earlier warned by Nada for failing to provide information on his whereabouts and was issued a warning last month.

Punia wrote on social media platform X late Sunday: “I want to clarify that I never refused to give my sample to NADA officials. 

“I requested them to first answer me as to what action they took on the expired kit they brought to take my sample.”

Punia took part in a sit-in protest in New Delhi last year against the then wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh over sexual harassment claims.

“The crocodiles sitting on the top are trying to lay a trap,” he added.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said last month that India recorded the world’s highest number of drug cheats in 2022.

India was the only country to have more than 100 positive results, with even countries that tested more athletes such as China, USA and Russia producing fewer violations.

No 65kg class Indian wrestler has yet qualified for the Paris Olympics, which begin in July.

Punia failed to progress at the national trials in March and Sujeet Kalkal represented India at the qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan last month.

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