Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has said his ministry has left the final decision on who will conduct dope tests on cricketers with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). The sports ministry, Rathore said, has written to WADA informing them of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) response to their letter last month.
The sports ministry and National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) have been at the loggerheads with the BCCI for several years over the dope testing issue. While NADA wants the authority to collect blood and urine samples of all cricketers, the BCCI has been resisting the pressure, claiming that since they are not funded by the government, they are not compelled to get the dope tests conducted by NADA.
Instead, they have outsourced their sample collection to Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM). The world anti-doping body raised concerns over BCCI’s non-compliance which resulted in ministry’s intervention. NADA conducts dope tests on all Indian athletes except the cricketers. Rathore said there is nothing personal about this issue and has left the final decision with WADA. He also played down the board’s fears that a players’ privacy will be infringed by disclosing his whereabouts, which is needed to conduct random out-of-competition tests. “BCCI is handling themselves actually. Therefore my focus is on many other sports and I am excited about doing things there. Of course the sort of responses they give via unknown spokesperson are very odd,” Rathore told The Indian Express. “They are talking about ministry being interested in knowing whereabouts of their celebrity or top athletes. That seems absurd because the ministry has a top athlete sitting in office and I am certainly not interested in anyone else.”
The former double trap shooter said the ministry had been writing to the BCCI on the issue for several years but did not receive any response. “So the (sports) secretary on his part decided if no response doesn’t mean anything, so we’ll go ahead and test them. The minute we did that, there was a response,” Rathore said. “They (BCCI) are saying we are testing through some other agency. We are sending that response back to WADA. now you decide. It’s not a personal matter with us at all.”
Backs anti-doping legislation
Rathore has also supported the proposed anti-doping legislation, which criminalises doping and makes it a punishable offence. Under the proposed law, there will be a provision for jail term for coaches, manufacturers and suppliers who encourage athletes to go for banned drugs apart from the sportsperson who dope themselves.
“Three people are important — sportsmen, coaches and fans. Your fans need to get the true you. The real triumph of human spirit over challenges. Therefore doping needs to be seriously looked at and if they are working on a law on it, which I believe they are, it’s very welcome. Doping is a menace that is spreading far and wide because of the incentives that are coming in. Therefore it’s a serious issue,” Rathore said. India has the third-most dope offenders in the world, behind Russia and Italy. Most of it takes place at a junior and national level, lured by the prospects of jobs under sports quota and cash incentives offered by states. Rathore said the ministry is working on creating awareness on the perils of doping apart from imposing sanctions on those who do it. “I hear a lot of times that when you go to a stadium, if there is a competition happening go to a washroom and look outside the window you see a lot of things taken. It is very sad if that is happening.
Someone maybe beating someone who is deserving. More importantly, it is going to play havoc with your health. So awareness is extremely important. NADA is working on creating a sense of awareness and also penalizing those who are doing it and associated with it,” Rathore said.