Sports Ministry orders NADA to conduct dope tests on Indian cricketers
What's the story?
India's Sports Ministry has ordered National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to start conducting dope tests on cricketers participating in both domestic as well as international competitions. Eager to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) code, the Ministry has given NADA complete authority to over-ride any intervention from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"I have instructed NADA's director general (Navin Agarwal) to send his DCOs to cricket tournaments in India to collect the samples of cricketers. If the BCCI resists or creates any hurdle in NADA's functioning, we won't hesitate from taking further action against the cricket board," Sports Ministry Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar told TOI.
Bhatnagar added, "We will first start with in-competition testing during matches played in India. Then, we will gradually move forward (to out-of-competition testing). If the BCCI has not responded to NADA's previous mails, (it) doesn't mean we will stop discharging our duties. Let them first stop us from conducting dope tests. We will see what more needs to be done. The important thing is we will conduct testing within our parameters and rules and regulations as stipulated in the WADA Code."
A few days back, a WADA report threw light on an Indian cricketer testing positive for banned substances in the procedure undertaken during 2016. Although the identity of the cricketer was kept under wraps, the relevant statistics revealed that as many as 138 cricketers registered under BCCI were subjected to In-Competition (IC) testing.
The heart of the matter
The major part of BCCI's reluctance to agree with WADA's code stems from the contentious whereabouts clause. In 2009, several leading Indian players had raised an objection to sharing their respective locations in advance to facilitate out-of-competition testing. Their hesitation emanated from possible security issues upon revealing their whereabouts.
Since the BCCI does not depend on the Indian Government for financial support, the Sports Ministry are already bracing for likely impediment from the cash-rich cricket body. Questioning the rationale behind their process of employing a private international dope testing firm for collecting the samples from players, the Ministry has instructed NADA to supersede BCCI's authority and send its 'dope control officers' to both domestic as well as international tournaments. They are expected to begin collecting In-Competition blood and urine samples from the cricketers playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season.
The next round of Ranji Trophy matches is slated to take place between November 1 and 4. Plenty of high-profile national stars who have been left out of the Indian squad for the T20I series against New Zealand will participate in the country's premier domestic tournament. It remains to be seen if NADA starts conducting In-Competition dope tests during those fixtures.
With all organisations governing cricket in every other country complying with WADA's rules and regulations, BCCI, as well as Indian cricket, do not have any excuse for failing to abide by the existing universal protocol. The Sports Ministry deserves wholehearted applause for empowering NADA to take full control of the procedure whilst issuing a stern warning to BCCI to not impede the conducting of the dope tests.