The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has turned down the request from IPL broadcasters Star India Private Limited to allow political advertisements during the T20 league, which begins on March 23. The broadcasters wanted Clause 8.6 (B) in the Media Rights Agreement to be waived off, which would have paved the way for political and religious advertisements being aired during live and recorded matches.
The issue was discussed in great detail in a meeting on Monday and the BCCI stated it will not change its policy currently in place. It says the board will not allow any political-religious advertisement during a bilateral, international or domestic tournament held under its banner.
Hoardings of political parties were seen during an ODI in Hyderabad when N Srinivasan was the BCCI chief. However, the board has stayed away from such practices since then. The Lok Sabha elections are set to be held across India in the months of April and May. The broadcasters wanted to cash in on the event, but the BCCI is in no mood to mix cricket and politics this summer.
BCCI to work with NADA
The Indian cricket board has also decided to work with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for the next six months on a trial basis. Samples of Indian cricketers will go through NADA to the National Dope Testing Laboratory.
It’s the first time the Indian board has decided to test its players under NADA as they used to get their testing done through Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM), attested by World Anti-Doping Agency. IDTM used to collect samples of Indian cricketers, including domestic players, since 2008.
A few months ago, WADA had asked the ICC to direct Indian cricketers to make themselves available for drug-testing by NADA. The world body warned that NADA could lose its accreditation with WADA, leaving India without a recognised anti-doping agency. In the past, the BCCI had maintained the stance of not testing through NADA as they didn’t trust it and its Dope Control Officers. They also had issues with NADA’s Whereabouts Clause as they saw it as infringing on cricketers’ privacy.
The BCCI’s three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) – comprising chairman Vinod Rai, Diana Edulji and Ravi Thodge – along with chief executive officer Rahul Johri had a meeting with International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar on this issue.
As per the norms, in order to remain WADA-complaint, a national federation has to provide 10 per cent of the samples for testing.
Though CoA has decided to go with NADA for the next six months, former board secretary Niranjan Shah said the committee should not take such decisions on a policy matter. Shah argued that any wrong decision will have a lasting impact on the BCCI. He claimed that only the general body can take such decisions as the CoA is a temporary arrangement. Interestingly, the BCCI didn’t call the board office-bearers for their meeting.
“At the moment, what is (BCCI’s in-house anti-doping mechanism) working is fine and very sufficient. So why we want to involve any other agency? In the past also, the whole issue (WADA-NADA) had been discussed in the general body. So they (CoA)should wait for a proper, constituted general body and then only such decisions should be taken,” Shah told The Indian Express.
Shah recalled how WADA’s whereabouts clause became a big issue few years ago. “We had long discussions on this (at the SGMs). See, cricket is different from any other sport and that was the argument we put forward (to the WADA and ICC) that time. Also, the whereabouts clause encroaches upon cricketers’ privacy. That was the biggest bone of contention. As for NADA, it has its own issues. The BCCI already has a very strong anti-doping mechanism down to the lower level,” he added.