The Sports Ministry has 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. "BCCI mechanism for adjudication in the event of the positive dope result is not in accordance with the principles of natural justice. BCCI as an interested party and also the appointing authority for the appointment of officers, tribunal members or appellate authority for adjudication," the letter read.
The Sports Ministry, according to the Indian Express report, had told Johri in a meeting in July that BCCI will have to comply with NADA rules and there will be no special arrangement. Currently, the BCCI's testing programme is managed by Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management.
In the meeting, the sports ministry has rejected BCCI's claim that it does not fall under the ambit of NADA. However, the ministry cited a NADA rule which said, "All athletes and athlete support personnel who participate in any capacity in any activity organised, held, convened or authorised by the organiser of event or league that is not affiliated with National Federation are subject to testing by NADA."
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Why BCCI has not signed with NADA?
The BCCI has cited flaws in NADA’s procedures as one of the major factors for not complying with its rules. It has also contended that since the BCCI is not a government-funded national federation, it is not subject to NADA’s jurisdiction. The BCCI is still not National Anti Doping Agency (NADA)-compliant and WADA had expressed its concerns to the International Cricket Council on the issue. The matter was tabled at ICC Board meeting in Dubai and the Indian Cricket Board was asked to sort the issue with NADA urgently. The BCCI, since 2017 has been uploading the 'whereabouts' of its players in WADA's ADAMS (Anti Doping Administrative and Management Systems) database.
In 2017, Johri asserted, “BCCI follows the ICC Code, which is based on the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Code”. This was in response to sports ministry’s diktat ordering NADA to conduct dope-tests on Indian cricketers as per the principles laid down by WADA during all domestic and international games played in the nation.