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The Abhinav Bindra quick guide to complying with WADA

For Beijing 2008 gold medallist Abhinav Bindra explains what it takes for an athlete to make himself available for investigators of WADA.

Written by Aabha Rathee | New Delhi |
August 5, 2009 10:06:16 am

For Beijing 2008 gold medallist Abhinav Bindra,Tuesday morning was slightly different — and WADA was duly informed. Bindra,who lives and trains in Chandigarh,decided two days ago that he would be in Delhi today,so he logged on to his account at adams.wada-ama.org and made a small entry.

From 7 to 8 every morning,365 days a year,Bindra has made himself available for investigators of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to come knocking for a surprise test. Today,since he was driving down to Delhi at this usual ‘available’ time,Bindra moved the one-hour slot to 5 to 6 pm,at his home in the Capital.

With a big debate around the Indian cricket board’s refusal to sign on for WADA’s ‘whereabouts’ clause citing invasion of players’ privacy and security fears,Bindra,who has been a signatory to the clause since it took effect on January 1,2009,explained to The Indian Express what it takes for an athlete to manage his whereabouts profile on the web site.

“It’s a simple process,” said Bindra. “Once you have a login for yourself,you create your profile by entering in the mandatory location details: a mailing address,your residential address,your usual training address and a likely competition address,for the next three months.”

What the agency wants,said Bindra,is an hour’s slot each day,at any time of the athlete’s choice from 6 am to 11 pm,during which the athlete must be available at a location fixed by him or her,in case he/she is picked out for a random sample collection.

“I’m home most days from 7am to 8 am,so that time suits me perfectly,” Bindra said. “Anyway,you’re ready to pee when you get up in the morning and that’s all they would ask for.”

Entries made by the athlete are expected to stand for a quarter of the year,unless he/she changes plans,like Bindra did for today. “So I logged on,clicked on the box for August 4,2009 on the calendar,disabled my usual testing slot,and entered the new evening one,” Bindra said.

If investigators arrive and the athlete is not exactly where he/she is supposed to be,he/she still has that one hour to make it back,said Bindra. If you are unable to get back,however,your information is deemed to be incorrect,and three such misses within 18 months would constitute a punishable doping violation. Ineligibility from competition,ranging from a period of one year to two,would be determined according to the intent or degree of fault.

Even though,as worded by the agency’s 2009 International Standard of Testing,an athlete is required to “be subject to testing 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year”,the actual liability is only for that one pre-determined hour. “The athlete’s exposure to the risk of a missed test is limited to the 60-minute time-slot each day,” the code says. In effect,the athlete can’t be punished if he/she misses a surprise sample collection at a random time during the day.

Changes can be made anytime — and as Bindra was talking to The Express,it struck him that he was going to be in London on October 12. So he logged on,changed his location for that date,but left the address field blank. “I can update it later,closer to the date,when I know exactly where I’m staying and my schedule for the day,” he said.

Security concerns — arising out of the fact that the whereabouts of a famous athlete would be known every day — do not worry Bindra. “For me the biggest security issue is two investigators landing at my doorstep with a sample collection bottle. That’s all I would be concerned about as an athlete.”

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