Court dismisses doping suspicions against Estonian wrestler Heiki Nabi

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Heiki Nabi. Source: ERR

The Tallinn-based Harju County Court dismissed an action filed by Estonian wrestler Heiki Nabi, suspected of having used doping, against the Estonian Center for Integrity in Sports and the Estonian Anti-Doping Agency.

Nabi filed an action against the activity of the foundations and sought the annulment of the initial competition ban imposed on him.

On February 17, the foundations sent a notice to Nabi announcing an initial competition ban. The reason given was that Nabi's January 6 out-of-competition doping control analysis contained the banned substance letrozole.

Nabi is asking the court to suspend the initial ban because, in imposing it, the foundations have violated their own rules, acted inconsistently, concealed important material from the athlete that, in accordance with their own rules, he has the right to access to prepare his defense, and violated the International World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

Nabi is of the opinion that the foundations violated the WADA code by not giving him the opportunity to give explanations either before or immediately after the initial ban. A direct hearing of Nabi has not yet been considered possible. According to him, the foundations are also hiding the materials of the procedure for the imposition of an initial competition ban from Nabi.

According to Nabi, his conviction and punishment have been subject to clearly premature and disproportionate measures and is calling on the court to overturn them. The 35-year-old athlete also emphasized that the ban imposed will severely restrict his rights to train and compete, that is to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Paul Keres, the lawyer representing Nabi, said the athlete went to court to preserve the opportunity to participate in the Olympics if the disciplinary board does not identify the deliberate use of doping.

"The Olympic Games are nearly here and the current procedure fell on the sweetest preparation period. In order for Heiki to be able to effectively prepare for the Olympics, he must participate in international camps and competitions, because there are no opponents of his level in Estonia. When it comes to letrozole, an initial competition ban is not automatic, but may be waived," Keres said, adding that the foundations are sadly hiding the materials concerning the initial competition ban procedure, which, in accordance with their own rules, they are obliged to hand over immediately at the request of the athlete.

"Thus, we do not really know why the initial ban was imposed, why the first time occurrence of the violation and that accidental introduction of such substances into the athlete's body is possible, for example, through contaminated food, human contact or even touching gym equipment, were not taken into account," Keres said. "The WADA code provides for a strict confidentiality requirement before a final disciplinary decision is made, which in this case has been violated by the leaking of the A sample find, and thus Nabi has lost the presumption of innocence, which also interferes with the preparations for the Olympics."

Nabi will open B sample, hopes to compete in Olympics

The wrestler announced that he, along with a representative, will be present in a German lab to open his B sample on Thursday.

"The last month and a half have been the most difficult in my life. The shock announcement of a bad analytical find in my doping sample, an unexpected competition ban along with a training ban. And to add to that, having the coronavirus. These weeks should have gone by training hard to prepare for the last Olympics of my career. Instead, I have had to wait and fight on other fronts," Nabi wrote in a press release.

"I can confirm however: By now, the shock has been replaced with sincere belief and hope that I can prove my reputation to everyone. I am increasingly convinced that I want and must protect my rights. This is the only way, being present for my B sample," Nabi continued.

The wrestler penned that his faith is strengthened by reading through documentation about his A sample. "The forwarding of these documents to me took an unfortunately long amount of time and delayed the process. But what I saw confirmed my knowledge, I have not knowingly consumed any banned substances and that the substance ended up in my body by chance," Nabi wrote.

Editor's note: This article was updated with Nabi's comments about the B sample on April 7.

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Editor: Helen Wright, Kristjan Kallaste

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