By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's Narsingh Yadav has claimed his supplements and water had been "sabotaged" after the wrestler due to represent his country in the 74kg category at next month's Rio Games tested positive for a banned steroid.
The 26-year-old's samples from an out-of-competition test returned positive and the wrestler attended a hearing to present his case before an anti-doping disciplinary panel on Saturday.
The panel has asked the national anti-doping agency (NADA) for further details on the case and is expected to return a verdict within a week.
Yadav, who secured India a berth at the Games by winning a bronze medal at last year's world championships in Las Vegas, said he had undergone around 25-30 drugs tests in his 15-year career as a professional freestyle wrestler.
"I have come out clean every time and never have any of my samples returned positive results," he said in a statement.
"I have undergone three tests in the last month and a half.
"I appeared for a dope test on the second 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 fifth of July."
Yadav's Olympic berth was put in jeopardy when Sushil Kumar, who won bronze in the 66kg category in Beijing in 2008 and silver in London, moved up a weight and sought a court order for a bout between the pair to determine who should go to Rio.
Last month, the Delhi High Court ruled against Kumar, the only Indian athlete to win two individual Olympic medals, clearing the way for Yadav to compete in Rio.
The qualification row divided opinion in the country and Yadav was provided police security, a rare measure for an Indian athlete, at the Sports Authority of India training center at Sonepat due to possible threats to his life.
The Wrestling Federation of India has also not dismissed the possibility of the failed test coming as a result of subversion, according to local media.
"I believe that there is foul play involved in this entire episode," said Yadav, who won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. "Someone has sabotaged my food supplements and water intake.
"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."
NADA Director General Navin Agarwal confirmed that the wrestler's room mate and training partner, Sandeep Yadav, has also tested positive for the same substance, which Indian media has reported to be the banned anabolic steroid methandienone.
"The foul play allegations are out of our jurisdiction," Agarwal told Reuters by telephone. "It's for the local police to investigate."
(Editing by John O'Brien)