Sports Secretary Radheshyam Jhulaniya on Friday said that the Indian cricket board has agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), ending years of defiance. Jhulaniya, who met BCCI CEO Rahul Johri here on Friday, said the Board has given in writing that it would adhere to the anti-doping policy of NADA. "All cricketers will now be tested by NADA," Jhulaniya told PTI. "The BCCI raised three issues before us about the quality of the dope testing kits, competence of pathologists and sample collection. We assured them that whatever facilities they want, we will provide but there will be some charge for it. BCCI is no different from others," he added.
The BCCI had been vehemently opposed to signing up with NADA, claiming that it is an autonomous body, not a National Sports Federation and does not rely on government funding. However, the sports ministry has also been steadfast in maintaining that it had to come under the NADA ambit.
Till date, Sweden-based International Dope Testing Management (IDTM) has been collecting the cricketers' samples and submitting them to the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL). "IDTM was an outside agency hired by BCCI to take samples. Now that agency will be NADA. I explained to BCCI you don't have a discretion to abide by law or not. The law applies to everyone equally," Jhulaniya said after the landmark development following a meeting with the BCCI officials. Every federation is on the same footing for enforcement of law. You don't have to sign an agreement. We categorically told them no MOU is required as law is applicable to everyone."
The primary concern of the Board was the contentious 'Whereabouts Clause' with regards to Out of Competition Testing, something that all star India players have been wary of as they considered it an invasion of their privacy.
On that, the top sports ministry official said, "Yes, NADA will carry out the test whenever and wherever they want. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) clause 5.2 gives the authority to the national anti-doping agency to carry all testing in its territory irrespective of the athletes' country. "All athletes irrespective of their country of origin or country of citizenship come under the jurisdiction of the national anti doping agency, that's the WADA's charter and we are a partner."
The Sports Ministry had heavily criticised the Board of Control for Cricket in India's anti-doping programme. According to a report in the Indian Express, a letter was written to the CEO Rahul Johri, the sports ministry and it has said the BCCI's anti-doping programme lacks robustness. It also hinted at a conflict of interest since the BCCI tests and hands out the quantum of punishment to the players. The Sports Ministry quoted article 5.2 of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code which said sampling of athletes can be done only by an Anti-Doping organisation with testing authority. Since the BCCI has not signed up with NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) for several years, the Sports Ministry has argued that the BCCI does not have the rights to conduct dope tests.
The letter pointed out the lack of robustness in the BCCI anti-doping programme. "In 2018, 215 samples were sent by BCCI to National Dope Testing Laboratory, India, for testing. Of these, 5 tested positive. There is no information as to how these athletes who tested positive have been dealt with," the letter stated.
The Ministry has raised questions about BCCI's overarching involvement in dope cases. As per WADA rules, which are also adopted by NADA, an independent panel which has no prior involvement with the parties involved must be formed. In the BCCI's case, this was not done in accordance and it raised the question of natural justice.
- With PTI inputs-