Ending years of defiance, Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI, on Friday agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency, becoming a National Sports Federation in the process despite being financially autonomous.
Sports Secretary Radheshyam Jhulaniya, who along with NADA DG Navin Agarwal met BCCI CEO Rahul Johri along with the Board’s GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim in Delhi on Friday, said that the Board has given in writing that it would adhere to the anti-doping policy of Nada.
“All cricketers will now be tested by Nada,” Jhulaniya said.
The implication of this development is expected to be massive as BCCI now becomes a designated NSF and will face a more pressure to come under the Right To Information Act as per government norms.
“The BCCI raised three issues before us about the quality of the dope testing kits, competence of pathologists and sample collection. We assured them that whatever facilities they want, we will provide but there will be some charge for it. But that higher facility will be equal for all NSFs. BCCI is no different from others. They have to follow the law of the land,” Jhulaniya said.
“The BCCI will agree to the law of the land,” said Johri, adding, “We have raised quite a few issues which the sports Secretary said will be addressed by them. We have agreed to bear the differential cost of high quality testing.”
The BCCI had been vehemently opposed to signing up with NADA, claiming that it is an autonomous body, not a National Sports Federation and does not rely on government funding.
The primary concern was the contentious ‘Whereabouts Clause’ with regards to Out of Competition Testing, something that all star India players have been wary of as they considered it an invasion of their privacy.
The ‘Whereabouts Clause’ requires every athlete to fill up a declaration form wherein he/she would have to mention three specific dates in a year when they are not competing but are available for Nada’s Dope Control Officer for sample collection.
If any athlete fails to appear on all the specified dates, it invites sanctions for breach of the World Anti-doping Agency Code. The premier example of this is West Indies’ all-rounder Andre Russell who was banned for one year by the Jamaican Anti-Doping Agency.
Till date, Sweden-based International Dope Testing Management has been collecting the samples and submitting them to the National Dope Testing Laboratory.
“IDTM IS no longer the authorised agency,” Jhulaniya asserted.
Earlier, the sports ministry has steadfastly maintained that the BCCI had to come under the NADA ambit.
It recently held back clearances for the tours by South Africa A and women’s teams and it was speculated that this was done to pressurise the BCCI into accepting anti-doping norms.
The move seems to have worked as Johri confirmed that the cricket board has now got clearance for the A as well as the women’s series after having waited for close to six months.
“We have received the clearance,” Johri said.
BCCI’s fresh stance makes it clear that Johri got the go ahead from the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, headed by Vinod Rai, to sign the agreement on dotted lines.
Earlier in March, the BCCI had agreed to get into a conditional tri-partite agreement with Nada and ICC. Jhulaniya had, however, made it clear that the Board cannot sign any agreement with a government body without the ministry’s consent.
Nada hadn’t signed that previous agreement in which the BCCI stated that their “chaperons” will collect the samples instead of NADA’s designated DCOs. The Board said it didn’t trust Nada DCOs “due to stories of goof-ups that consistently appear”
With the BCCI officially coming under the Nada ambit, the possibility of agreeing to RTI is becoming more and more real even though Johri sidestepped the query.
“The RTI issue is a different subject altogether. It was not in today’s meeting agenda,” Johri said.