Cricketer caught for doping, how BCCI could face WADA wrath
Indian cricket has once again been rocked by a doping scandal. According to a 2016 report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), one player has tested positive for banned substances among 153 Board of Control for Cricket in India accreditated players. The name of the player has not been revealed.
The latest WADA report comes at an interesting time. WADA is at loggerheads with the BCCI over the continued refusal of Indian cricketers to submit themselves to the drug testing regimen that is followed by all global athletes.
According to a report in Times of India, WADA has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to direct the BCCI to allow drug-testing of Indian cricketers by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). The report stated that the global anti-doping body has reportedly warned that if the Indian agency fails to achieve the demand, then it could lose WADA accreditation.
In a letter written by WADA’s Director General Olivier Niggli to Union sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, it added that NADA’s ability to conduct an effective anti-doping programme in cricket has been hampered by BCCI’s reluctance and pointed out that NADA’s anti-doping rules give it full jurisdiction and authority over all sports in India.
The global body’s intervention has come after an audit of NADA’s anti-doping programme in April found that the BCCI does not recognize NADA’s authority and neither does it permit any anti-doping regime in cricket.
If NADA loses WADA accreditation, then it could affect Indian sport’s fight against doping. The country’s participation could also be in trouble as there would be no WADA-accredited agency to test the athletes.
BCCI’s stringent opposition
The BCCI has stringently opposed the WADA drug-testing of Indian cricketers due to the “whereabouts clause”. The clause states players have to inform the ICC at the beginning of every quarter of the year, a location and time that they will be available for an hour each day for testing.
If a player changes his/her schedule in between, then he/she needs to update the whereabouts information to the nodal officer either online or even through SMS. However, if the player is not in the location at the time specified, he/she will have a strike recorded against his name. Three such strikes and the player will have breached the code and can face up to a two-year suspension from the game.
Recently, West Indies cricketer Andre Russell was banned for one year for a whereabouts clause violation as he was negligent in filing his whereabouts on three separate occasions within a 12-month period in 2015.
Indian cricketers have objected to this code as this invades their privacy and it compromises their security. In the past, WADA had sent a code compliance questionnaire to the BCCI but the Indian Board did not submit it because it refused to recognise the code.
Tough road ahead
ICC has been a WADA signatory since 2006. Under the terms, the BCCI also comes under the Anti-Doping Agency code as it is an ICC member. This should give NADA the authority to dope-test Indian cricketers.
It has been reported that former sports secretary Injeti Srinivas, has been getting directions from Rathore to act upon this matter. Srinivas had written to the Committee of Administrators head Vinod Rai and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to facilitate NADA in implementing the anti-doping programme. If the Indian cricket board refuses to co-operate, there are reports that WADA could pressurise the ICC and impose sanctions on the BCCI.