Indian cricket team during practice session ahead of decider against New Zealand. (Source: AP)
The sports ministry has ordered the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) to conduct tests on cricketers and has sought the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) cooperation for the same. The ministry’s intervention comes after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wrote to it recently, raising concerns over the BCCI’s non-compliance.
Subsequently, sports secretary Rahul Bhatnagar has told NADA director general Naveen Agarwal to send dope control officers to cricket tournaments and conduct the tests. “If BCCI is not going to co-operate, I have told the NADA director general to send teams to the cricket competitions and take tests and if they resist, we will deal with that. But we will go ahead with the tests of these Indian cricketers as per anti-doping rules of NADA and WADA,” Bhatnagar told The Indian Express.
The BCCI has been at the loggerheads with NADA for several years. The Board claims since it is not funded by the government, it is not compelled to get the dope tests done by the NADA, which conducts tests on every other sportsperson in the country. The BCCI argues it have been conducting tests in a transparent manner and adheres to all anti-doping rules. “We are not a public body so it is not imperative for us to be tested by NADA. We comply with all WADA rules and tests are conducted at the National Laboratory. We are dealing with this in a very transparent manner,” a Board official said.
Instead of the NADA, the BCCI has outsourced its sample collection programme to Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM), which provides its services to several international federations including, according to its website, the WADA.
Once the samples are collected, they are tested at Delhi’s National Dope Test Laboratory (NDTL), which is approved and accredited by WADA. However, since it is not directly under NADA’s supervision, the BCCI has made some modifications to the whereabouts clause and the results are shared directly with WADA and the International Cricket Council.
As per the WADA’s 2016 report, the BCCI is not the only governing body to conduct tests directly – Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies are some other boards that report directly to ICC and WADA instead of going through their national anti-doping organisation. The report further added that the BCCI conducted a total of 153 urine tests out of which one returned positive. The details of the positive test have not been made public.
However, to ensure more transparency and to bring all sportsperson under the same rule, Bhatnagar said they will start conducting random dope tests on cricketers as per their dope-testing rules. “I got to know that we had written letters to the BCCI to cooperate with us for testing but we have got no response,” Bhatnagar, who took charge as the sports secretary earlier this month, said.
“As far as NADA and WADA are concerned they (cricketers) can be tested anytime in competition and out of competition but we want to test them in an amicable situation – that means with the co-operation of the BCCI.”
He added: “Cricket is a game in which there is not so much incidence of doping but the point is that we have to follow the rules and we can’t have any exception. Like all other sportspersons cricketers will be subjected to tests, both in competition and out of competition.