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UWW suspends Bajrang Punia; SAI approves his training stint abroad, but wrestler cancels trip

Wrestling’s world governing body UWW has suspended Bajrang Punia until the end of this year following NADA’s decision to impose a provisional ban on him for refusing to undergo a doping test.

However, in a rather surprising decision, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has sanctioned nearly Rs nine lakh for his training abroad despite being well aware of the NADA order.

Reason behind Bajrang’s suspension

Bajrang, one of the country’s most successful wrestlers, was suspended by NADA on April 23 after receiving a whereabouts notice on April 18.

In his defense, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist said he had never refused to provide his sample for testing but only asked the dope control officer to explain the presence of expired kits brought to collect his sample.

No communication from UWW

Bajrang told PTI that he has not received any communication from the UWW regarding his suspension, but the global governing body while updating its internal system clearly states that he has been suspended.

“Suspended until December 31, 2024 for the following reason,” reads the update on Bajrang’s profile.

“Provisionally suspended by NADO IND due to alleged ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violation),” was the reason given.

Nearly ₹9 lakh sanctioned to Bajrang

Interestingly, the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) was informed in its April 25 meeting that Bajrang has been sanctioned Rs 8,82,000 plus airfare (actual) for his proposal to train in Dagestan, Russia, from May 28.

Bajrang’s original proposal was for a 35-day training trip starting April 24, but according to the MOC meeting minutes, due to “conflicting travel dates due to the failure of his residence, he opted to postpone the travel plans from April 24, 2024 to April 28.” May 2024.”

The proposal also included the travel plans of his strength and conditioning coach Kaazi Kiron Mustafa Hasan and his sparring partner Jitender.

Bajrang’s response

Neither SAI Director General Sandip Pradhan nor Colonel Rakesh Yadav, TOPS co-CEO, responded to calls or messages when PTI sought an explanation for the decision to sanction his training.

Bajrang confirmed that he had submitted a proposal to SAI for approval.

“I am also surprised that SAI has approved it. I have basically canceled my plan, I am not going anywhere for training now,” Bajrang said, adding that his lawyer has submitted the response to NADA.

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2024 3:16 PM IST