Silver rejected in honour of deceased wrestler

Yogeshwar Dutt (in orange) competing in last month's Rio Olympics. The wrestler declined to upgrade his 2012 bronze to silver, as the original silver medallist has died from a car crash.
Yogeshwar Dutt (in orange) competing in last month's Rio Olympics. The wrestler declined to upgrade his 2012 bronze to silver, as the original silver medallist has died from a car crash.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt received news on Tuesday that he has been upgraded as an Olympics silver medallist.

But the very next day, he announced on Twitter that he would not accept the elevation because the original second-place finisher's positive dope test came after his death, reported the Indian Express.

The 33-year-old had bagged a bronze in the men's 60kg freestyle category at the 2012 London Games. But he was elevated to silver status after Russia's Besik Kudukhov failed a World Anti-Doping Agency dope test conducted on his sample from 2012 before the recently-concluded Rio Olympics.

Dutt, who had bowed out in the first round of the 65kg freestyle competition at the Rio Games, had lost to Kudukhov in the pre-quarter-finals in London.

But, once the Russian advanced to the final, Dutt got another chance in the repechage round and defeated Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico, Masoud Esmaeilpour of Iran and Ri Jong Myong of North Korea to claim bronze.

In 2013, four-time world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Kudukhov died in a car crash in southern Russia.

"Besik Kudukhov was a magnificent wrestler," said Dutt in his Twitter post.

"His dope test returning positive after his death is very sad. As a wrestler, I respect him.

"If possible he must be allowed to keep the medal. It will keep his family's honour intact. For me, humanity is above everything else."

Dutt also told ESPN that the silver upgrade, rather than bring him joy, had kept him awake at night.

"I had heard about his death in 2013 and if Kudukhov was alive it was a different thing but he is no more," the Indian wrestler said.

"Yesterday I thought about his parents and his family. We can't do anything for them who today only have his memories with them.

"Whether he failed his dope test or not, that medal should stay with his family. That medal contains special memories for his family, that is all they have of him.

"I would not like that medal or anything taken away from his family through which they remember him."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2016, with the headline 'Silver rejected in honour of deceased wrestler'. Print Edition | Subscribe