Firming its stand over the implementation of anti-doping laws in cricket, the sports ministry has categorically told the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that neither will they enter into any agreement nor will any exemption be granted to the country’s richest sporting body on this issue.
The BCCI had proposed that NADA can conduct dope tests on cricketers on a short-term trial basis. Depending on the outcome of that arrangement, they would decide if the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) would be given ‘permanent access’ to the players. However, a senior sports ministry official said the government will accept no such deal. “The BCCI has been told that there is no way the government will sign an agreement or any kind of Memorandum of Understanding with them,” a sports ministry official said. “The law applies equally to everyone and there can’t be any exceptions.”
In an attempt to solve the impasse, BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri is likely to meet sports secretary Radheyshyam Julaniya here on Friday. Their meeting comes in the backdrop of a cold war of sorts between the two parties, with the ministry heavily criticising BCCI’s anti-doping mechanisms, while the board accusing the government of not granting NOCs to South Africa’s A and women’s teams for their visas.
Johri and Julaniya had met a month ago but could not break the deadlock, which has been existing for almost a decade. It is learnt that BCCI offered to work with NADA for a period of six months. It is a proposal that has roots in a joint meeting between officials from BCCI, sports ministry, NADA, World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and International Cricket Council (ICC) held last year. Following the meeting, BCCI drafted the terms in consultation with ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, since the world body is a signatory to the WADA rules.
BCCI sources said they were prepared to allow NADA to test roughly 10 percent of the total samples collected from Indian cricketers annually. Further, they were ready to give access to only under-23 or junior players, while international and domestic cricketers will continue to be tested as per the current process.
The BCCI, at present, has outsourced its sample collection programme to Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM). The samples collected by IDTM are analysed at Delhi’s National Dope Test Laboratory, thus keeping NADA out of the loop in the testing process. BCCI’s anti-doping set-up has come under scrutiny following 19-year-old batsman Prithvi Shaw’s failed dope test last month.
Johri is believed to have reiterated these conditions in his meeting with sports ministry officials last month. However, they were unequivocally rejected. Johri, it is learnt, was sarcastically told that the only way BCCI can escape being tested by NADA officials if they can convince the government to withdraw from the agreement with WADA.
“Once the government signs a protocol, they are bound by it and are under obligation to implement it. The anti-doping rules clearly say that all athletes in the country are subject to testing by NADA,” an official said.
Cricket is the only sport in India that is not in the ambit of NADA, which is mandated to keep sports dope free. The cricket board has cited flaws in the testing agency’s procedures as one of the key reasons for not complying with their rules. It has also contended that since the BCCI is not a government-funded national federation, it is not subject to NADA’s jurisdiction and has claimed to have a “robust mechanism to ensure Indian cricket is free from doping”.
This article appeared in the print edition with the headline ‘No thaw in dope stand-off’