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Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia, known for his role in leading athlete protests against the federation chief last year, has been provisionally suspended by the national anti-doping agency (NADA) for reportedly evading a drug test.

Punia, Olympic bronze medalist from Tokyo, is confronted with a potential two-year ban after declining to provide a urine sample to doping control officers during 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.

Although dated 23 April, the document only surfaced over the weekend. As per Indian media reports, Punia had previously received a warning from NADA for not providing information regarding his whereabouts and was issued another 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." He participated in a sit-in protest in New Delhi last year, joining others in expressing dissent against the then wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh amidst sexual harassment allegations. "The crocodiles sitting on the top are trying to lay a trap," he added.

Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency reported that India had the highest number of athletes testing positive for banned substances in 2022. India was the sole country to surpass 100 positive results, with even nations testing more athletes, like China, the USA, and Russia, registering fewer violations.

As of now, no Indian wrestler in the 65kg weight class has secured qualification for the Paris Olympics, set to commence in July. Punia did not advance during the national trials held in March, leading to Sujeet Kalkal representing India at the qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan last month.