Talk of a sporting institution not living up to expectations and the first example that comes to mind is the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), set up in 2009 to check the menace of doping in the country and to spread awareness of the harmful effects of performance enhancing drugs.
“The agency is four years old and yet it is not being run on professional lines… the whole system needs to be streamlined,” says a member of NADA’s disciplinary panel on condition of anonymity.
Apart from lack of professionalism, there is a general notion that NADA is biased when it comes to testing big names, and only upcoming players are targeted. There are also allegations that NADA does pre-departure tests of national teams participating in international meets, which is unethical in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency and amounts to sponsoring doping in the country.
If all these allegations were not enough, there is also a conflict of interest when it comes to the post of CEO in the agency. As per the NADA website, the secretary (sports) by virtue of his post, automatically becomes the head of the agency as well.
Sunita Godara, says that being a key official of the sports ministry responsible for formulating policies, the secretary should not be given charge of another body where there are chances of influencing certain decisions.
Godara has filed a PIL saying that the government (SAI) in coordination with the federations is supporting dope cheats. “We will continue to fight against the system,” she said. Attempts to contact NADA chief Mukul Chatterjee, proved futile as he didn’t respond to the calls.
Several of its decisions have backfired, with the one involving six female 400m runners causing huge embarrassment to the country in 2011. The NADA appellant panel handed out a one-year ban for steroid offence to the runners, while the IAAF categorically states a two-year ban for first offence.
The IAAF challenged the NADA verdict in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and won. Finally, the NADA was left with no choice but to enforce a two-year ban. The IAAF has, time and again, asked NADA to expedite the process of hearing but with little success. The agency, it is learnt, is yet to have a proper anti-doping programme, including data collection of sportspersons under the whereabouts clause.