India's Rio-bound wrestler Narsingh Yadav has said he believes there is "foul play" involved in the entire episode surrounding his dope test.
"Someone has sabotaged my food supplements and water intake," he said in a statement issued on Sunday night. "I take pride in the fact that I have competed in every competition, international and domestic, in an honest, fair and transparent manner and I will continue to do so. I am a responsible athlete with an understanding of the country's expectations and hopes on me. I would never dream of betraying that hope."
Reports had first emerged in the morning that Narsingh had tested positive for a banned substance.
"I have been a professional freestyle wrestler for over 15 years and I have undergone almost 25-30 dope tests," Narsingh said. "I have come out clean every single time and never have any of my samples returned positive results. I have undergone three tests in the last month and a half. I appeared for a dope test on the 2nd of June before leaving for a training camp in Bulgaria. I was again tested on my return on the 25th of June and once again on the 5th of July."
Narsingh has earlier found support from his coach Jagmal Singh and Mustafa Ghouse, the CEO of JSW Sports, who have supported him for the last two years.
"I've been a professional freestyle wrestler for over 15 years and I've undergone almost 25-30 dope tests. I've come out clean every single time and never have any of my samples returned positive results."
"Narsingh has been training under me for the last 15 years," Jagmal said. "He comes from a very poor family. I don't believe he taken any kind of dope. This is a big conspiracy around Narsingh. Why only trap him in this conspiracy?"
Saying that Narsingh was an honest wrestler and had gone through the qualification process, Jagmal wondered why he was put under so much pressure. "He has been practising very hard to win a medal for his country. Why would he take steroids? Doesn't he realize the efforts he took in reaching this far? I'm saying this again: this is a big conspiracy. Narsingh has not taken any steroids and I can vouch for it."
Ghouse felt that the entire controversy "doesn't add up". "We have been working closely with the authorities since we got to know of this a few days back," Ghouse told ESPN. "It doesn't add up, we have been working with him for way too long to know that. We fully support him and are confident that the Wrestling Federation and the Sports Authority of India will find a solution."
While the details of the drug test will only be revealed upon the end of the appeals process as per the NADA protocol, it is understood that the alleged substance Narsingh has tested positive for is an S1 anabolic agent called methyldienolone, which is known to lead to an increase in muscle and weight.
This latest development comes as another flashpoint in what have been a tough few months for Narsingh, including a public and bitter spat with double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, who was the other contender for the sole spot in the 74kg freestyle category. Narsingh was favoured as he had earned the Olympic quota in the World Championships last year.
While Sushil's mentor Satpal Singh expressed his disappointment with the doping controversy and said that Sushil would be ready to step in as a replacement if needed, Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta ruled out that possibility. "As far as Sushil Kumar is concerned, I think there is practically no chance for him (to replace Narsingh)," Mehta said. "Everything is closed as far as entry of athletes is concerned."