The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the two-year ban imposed on Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler Heiki Nabi in 2021 for doping offenses. However, the CAS also ruled that Nabi had been an unfortunate victim in the case, stressing that he could not be considered a cheat or willing user of performance enhancing substances.
The CAS communicated to Nabi, that while it agrees that traces of the banned substance Letrozole in his system had appeared inadvertently, the two-year ban already in place would not be overturned.
"Understandably, I cannot be happy about this decision," said Nabi. "I have done nothing wrong. It's extremely painful, but unfortunately top athletes are defenseless in these situations. Even when the best professionals have conclusively proven an athlete's innocence. These are the rules of the game today," he said.
Two-time World Championship gold medalist Nabi, 37, who also won silver at the 2012 Olympics in London, said that the appreciated the thoroughness with which the CAS had handled his case, and the decision specifically stressed that there was no basis to call Nabi a cheat or willing user of performance enhancing substances.
Paragraph 197 of the CAS report stated: "The Appellant is a world class athlete, a credible witness and unfortunate victim of what has been determined to be inadvertent administration of trace amounts of Letrozole from an unknown source. He is paying a heavy price for incidental circumstances that may, or may not, have been outside of his control, and should not be branded as a cheater or a doper."
Heiki Nabi confirmed that he is prepared to share the contents of the CAS report with the public in full.
"I have had nothing to hide throughout this process. I have always said exactly what I know and what I think," said Nabi.
"Now, I am telling you directly and honestly, that I don't know what will happen next. I will take some time to make up my mind and then announce my future plans to the public," he added.
"A big, big thank you to all of you who have believed in me, helped me and supported me. It has given me the strength to stand firm for justice and (to defend) my own good name," Nabi expressed his gratitude.
Nabi received the two-year ban from the disciplinary board of the Estonian Center for Integrity in Sports (ESTCIS) in June 2021, after a sample provided during an out-of-competition doping test was found to contain the banned substance Letrozole in February of the same year. As a result, Nabi missed out on competing for Estonia at last summer's Tokyo Olympics.
Editor: Michael Cole