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Cricket news - BCCI comes under NADA - All you need to know

NADA can review Prithvi Shaw's case if they feel the need to do so

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has relented in its long standoff with the government over control of the dope-testing regime of its cricketers and agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). The move comes after cricketer Prithvi Shaw's recent failed dope test raised questions on the competence of BCCI's anti-doping procedures.

It is a significant policy change for a sports body that does not identify itself as a national sports federation (NSF), is not dependent on government funding and has for years been steadfastly opposed to any sort of government interference in its functioning. The decision comes in the wake of BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and general manager (cricket operations) Saba Karim's meeting with sports secretary Radheshyam Julaniya and NADA director general Navin Agarwal in New Delhi on Friday.

TOI understands that BCCI had to soften its stance after facing the heat from the sports ministry, which stayed clearance for the touring South Africa 'A' and women's teams.

Speculation is rife that this is the first step in the BCCI being forced to come under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and being deemed a National Sports Federation (NSF). Board officials, however, dismissed such suggestions, saying increased government interference was against world body ICC's regulations.

"The BCCI can't be deemed an NSF as it doesn't take government grants. As for RTI, it will be looked into separately since the new BCCI constitution approved by the SC has some different pointers," an official said. However, a top BCCI official told TOI that the board would have had to eventually come under NADA if it wanted its women's team to play in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.

"ICC has been trying to globalise cricket. And in its strategy report last year, it had marked the over-reliance on BCCI as one of its weaknesses. The 2022 CWG and India's participation becomes crucial in this context. Not complying to NADA would have been a stumbling block both for BCCI and the ICC," said the source.

Till now, Sweden-based International Dope Testing Management (IDTM) had been collecting the cricketers' samples and submitting them to the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL).' "IDTM was an outside agency hired by BCCI to take samples. Now that agency will be NADA. I explained to BCCI, you don't have a discretion to abide by law or not," Julaniya said. "NADA will carry out the test whenever and wherever they want. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) clause 5.2 gives the authority to NADA to carry all testing in its territory irrespective of the athletes' country."

Johri, on his part, told reporters after the meeting, "We have to follow the law of the land and the BCCI is committed to following the law that exists." On whether the Committee of Administrators (CoA) was qualified to take the step in the absence of elected members, Johri said, "Whoever is in existence, the law of the land is there. You and I can't choose at what time to follow the law of the land. We have raised a lot of concerns."

Concerns about potential misuse

The BCCI, it is understood, has expressed its concerns about the potential misuse of the 'whereabouts clause' that deals with out-of-competition testing.

Many top cricketers feel it is a breach of privacy and a threat to personal security. BCCI is also worried about the competence of those collecting the samples. "Our stance on 'whereabouts clause' remains the same. It can potentially invade the privacy of the cricketers," a BCCI official told TOI. "Don't jump the gun," was all Johri said when he was asked about the clause. "We have said that we want a certain level of service for our players. If there is any differential, then the BCCI will agree to pay for it."

The BCCI raised three issues before the ministry - the quality of dope testing kits, competence of pathologists and quality of sample-collection methods.

Julaniya told reporters after the meeting, "BCCI has conveyed to us they will abide by Indian law, rules and regulations and respect the government of India's jurisdiction. Their first concern was the quality of dope testing kits. We assured them the kits are of international quality - WADA-approved kits.

"The second issue was regarding competence of pathologists and sample-collecting officers. We assured them our dope-control officers are well trained but if you require a higher qualification then we have no issues in enlisting those but they will be at a higher fee. The third issue was timely decision of cases. We explained that there is a three-month window and 90% of the cases are decided within that."

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WHAT DOES THE DECISION MEAN?

- National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) can collect samples of all cricketers during domestic tournaments (Duleep Trophy, Ranji Trophy, etc. and all agegroup events)

- NADA cannot collect samples of its own accord during bilateral series (for eg., the upcoming India-South Africa home series) unless instructed to do so by the International Cricket Council (ICC). These matches are part of the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) and the world body may continue with its arrangement with Sweden-based lab International Dope Tests and Management (IDTM) to collect samples. However, if the ICC feels the need to get the cricketers tested by the NADA, it will inform the BCCI, which in turn will extend an invitation to NADA to come and test the cricketers.

- A third possibility too exists - the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) can direct ICC to authorize NADA to collect samples instead of IDTM.

Earlier, since the BCCI wasn't WADA Code compliant, the world body was finding it difficult to get the testing done through NADA.

- NADA also cannot collect samples of its own accord during ICC events in India (like the T20 WC or World Cup). It is ICC's prerogative whether to get the testing done by its accredited agency IDTM or invite NADA.

WHAT HAPPENS TO DOPETESTING IN THE IPL?

NADA can collect samples of all international and domestic cricketers in the IPL since it is a BCCI domestic event.

WHY IS BCCI CONCERNED ABOUT THE WHEREABOUTS CLAUSE?

The BCCI feels the clause is a safety hazard for top cricketers and a breach of privacy. The clause requires every athlete to fill a declaration form mentioning where they will be for an hour everyday to NADA's dope control officer for sample collection in the coming three months when they are not competing. If any athlete fails to be at the specified place and date, it invites sanctions for breach of the WADA Code. Such a breach led to Andre Russell being banned for a year.

WILL THE WHEREABOUTS CLAUSE STAND?

Yes. All cricketers on the domestic scene will have to share their whereabout details with NADA. For ICC events and bilateral series, cricketers are not obliged to share such details until ICC appoints NADA as the testing agency.

WHAT NEXT FOR BCCI?

It will have to incorporate the doping clause in its constitution, giving authority to NADA to test cricketers. The IPL constitution also needs to be amended accordingly.

IS BCCI NOW A NATIONAL SPORTS FEDERATION?

No. It only means the BCCI has become compliant to the WADA's 2015 Code. Whether this move will weaken the BCCI's resistance to being labelled as a NSF is open to speculation.

IS BCCI NOW UNDER RTI ACT?

Again, no. That will only happen if BCCI becomes a NSF.

DID BOTCHED PRITHVI SHAW DOPE CASE HASTEN COMPLIANCE?

Many within BCCI feel so. Shaw was retrospectively banned for eight months after testing positive for terbutaline but more importantly, was allowed to play in the IPL when he clearly should not have been. The BCCI's handling of the case did raise a stink.

CAN WADA REVIEW THE PRITHVI SHAW CASE?

Yes, if after following due procedure they feel the need to do so. "We will review the case as we always do and follow the usual process," a WADA official told TOI.

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