How long will BCCI stay out of NADA ambit?

The ICC had always tolerated the stand of the BCCI that NADA would not be allowed to take over control of anti-doping measures in cricket in India. In such a scenario, WADA found it difficult to maintain the ‘Code compliance’ part for the ICC. When one of its units is in breach of regulations, the ICC could not have been bracketed with the rest of the ‘Code compliant’ agencies. Yet, somehow ICC has survived so far without being named. The time has come for WADA to actually name it among ‘non-compliant’ signatories.

The Sports Ministry, under the new leadership of Kiren Rijiju has told the BCCI, according to a report, who should be in charge of dope-testing and how independent results management and adjudication processes have to be followed.   -  Getty Images

After having persisted with an anti-doping rule that was in clear breach of the World Anti-Doping Code for more than two years at least, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has retracted it. In its place it has brought in a more outlandish note to a rule that gives the impression that the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) of India might be trying to usurp the powers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to acquire the right to run the sport in the country!

For a sports body engaged in wrestling with a court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) for more than two years, the structure of anti-doping in cricket in this country might perhaps come last in its order of priority. It is important, however, that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) enforce the Code in its entirety to ensure that the supremacy of NADA India to be responsible for the entire gamut of anti-doping in its territory and over Indian nationals be restored in order to be able to categorise the ICC as ‘Code compliant’.

That the issue of jurisdiction to test cricketers in India between NADA and the BCCI has remained unresolved since the former came into existence in 2009 is a matter of shame. Do the Board and the cricketers in this country deserve special privileges? Do the Federers and Nadals of this world demand and receive special privileges when it comes to dope-testing? They don’t.

Yet, the ICC, in its wisdom or lack of it, had always tolerated the illogical stand of the BCCI that NADA would not be allowed to take over control of anti-doping measures in cricket in India.

There is no rule that says that a body has to be named national sports federation or it has to be recognised as one by the Government or any agency to be brought under a NADO. The requirement is for it to be the governing body of a sport that is recognised by the concerned International Federation which in turn is a signatory to the Code.

In the early years, NADA kept writing letters to the BCCI but received no response. The political clout the BCCI enjoyed was known to all, NADA being no exception, and the agency did not want to ruffle feathers in any attempt to force itself onto cricket and testing.

In the meantime, WADA found it difficult to maintain the ‘Code compliance’ part for the ICC. When one of its units is in breach of regulations, the ICC could not have been bracketed with the rest of the ‘Code compliant’ agencies. Yet, somehow ICC has survived so far without being named. The time has come for WADA to actually name it among ‘non-compliant’ signatories.

The consequences would be severe for cricket which has ambitions of making it into the Olympics. An Olympic slot will provide lesser countries with the support that the sport needs from governments. The BCCI may continue to defy on the pretext that NADA’s authority over cricket would mean compromising leading players’ privacy and security. Now, the new-found fear of a complete take-over of the games by NADA or the Government or any of its agencies should drive the BCCI to further panic.

Strange though it may seem, the ICC anti-doping code extends only to ‘international-level’ players. Its rules are almost silent on the direct role National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) play in each of its units’ territories (where NADOs are in existence). It is difficult to spot a similarity with the rule of another International Olympic Committee-recognised international federation. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), for instance, has rules that extend to any athlete who comes under the jurisdiction of an Area Association or a national federation or any of the latter’s affiliated units. The IAAF also recognises the authority of a NADO. So do all other IOC-recognised international federations.

Of late, the BCCI has also talked about the lack of quality in NADA’s procedure and doubted its integrity in sample collection and transportation. No choice is provided in the Code to constituent units of an international federation to pick and choose NADOs as per the latter’s efficiency. Independence and transparency are the key words that dictate dope-testing. Though the BCCI claims its set-up and processes as the best, transparency has often lacked in cricket testing and adjudication of cases.

READ| BCCI's anti-doping initiatives have been fantastic, says Ratnakar Shetty

Coming back to what was said at the beginning. What is the bizarre clause that has been brought into the ICC anti-doping code? This one is the latest edition, that of April 2019. One did not even realise there was a latest edition and that too in 2019.

The latest amended ICC code of Conduct

The old ICC Code of Conduct ( of June 2017 retained right up to May 2019)

13.2.2 Persons Entitled to Appeal

In cases under Article 13.2.1, the following parties shall have the right to appeal to CAS: (a) the Player or other Person who is the subject of the decision being appealed; (b) the other party to the case in which the decision was rendered; (c) the ICC; (d) the National Anti-Doping Organisation of the Person’s country of residence or countries where the Person is a national or license holder;(e) any other Anti-Doping Organisation under whose rules a sanction could have been imposed; and (f) WADA.

13.2.2 Persons Entitled to Appeal

In cases under Article 13.2.1, the following parties shall have the right to appeal to CAS: (a) the Player or other Person who is the subject of the decision being appealed; (b) the other party to the case in which the decision was rendered; (c) the ICC; (d) subject to Article 13.2.3 below, the National Anti-Doping Organisation of the Person’s country of residence or countries where the Person is a national or license holder; (e) any other Anti-Doping Organisation under whose rules a sanction could have been imposed; and (f) WADA.

13.2.3 Notwithstanding Article 13.2.2 (d), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (the National Cricket Federation for the territory of India) does not recognise the authority or jurisdiction of the National Anti-Doping Organisation for India. Therefore, the right of appeal for National Anti-Doping Organisations under Article 13.2.2 (d) shall not be available to the National Anti-Doping Organisation in India in respect of decisions taken pursuant to the ICC Code.

NOTE FOR 2019: Article 13.2.2 gives the National Anti-Doping Organisation in India a right of appeal in cases where the Person who is the subject of the decision being appealed resides in or is a national of or license holder in India. That right is conferred in order to comply with the mandatory provisions of the Code. It does not constitute, and shall not be deemed to constitute, any waiver by the Board for the Control of Cricket in India (the National Cricket Federation for the territory of India) of its claim to have the sole and exclusive right to govern and regulate the sport of cricket in India.

 

Why is this particular clause India-specific? Does the ICC think, perhaps prodded by the BCCI, that the autonomy of one of its affiliated units is under threat? That too from an anti-doping agency? All other national sports federations (NSFs) in India follow NADA’s rules and recognises its authority to conduct tests and carry out ‘results’ management.

Nothing could have been more hilarious than this assertion mentioned in an anti-doping code that only the BCCI has the right to govern the sport of cricket in India and it could be under threat!

This amendment, however, is supposed to be a major concession in the BCCI stand that it does not recognise NADA’s authority.

READ: Shaw doping ban warning bell for young cricketers

NADA took things lightly all these years even though it could have asserted its authority long back. The argument that the BCCI is not a recognised National Sports Federation and cannot thus come under the authority of NADA is specious. There is no rule that says that a body has to be named national sports federation or it has to be recognised as one by the Government or any agency to be brought under a NADO. The requirement is for it to be the governing body of a sport that is recognised by the concerned International Federation which in turn is a signatory to the Code.

The recent reports that the concerned organisations were trying to arrive at some understanding of how to allow NADA into the scheme of things have brought further ridicule on NADA and the Union Sports Ministry. If reports are to be believed, the BCCI might engage NADA to transport urine samples on a trial basis for a small percentage of its testing.

NADA should not accept anything other than its authority to test and manage all sport in India that come under an international federation which is WADA-recognised.

To a query from Sportstar about the ongoing consultations, the ICC replied on August 1:

“The ICC, BCCI and WADA have been working together on a roadmap to facilitate the Indian NADA’s involvement in the game and this is in progress now. The BCCI run a robust anti-doping programme utilising independent testing agencies and the roadmap complements this. The ICC is a fully WADA compliant federation.”

The so-called ‘robustness’ is now being questioned by the Sports Ministry. It is heartening to note that the Ministry, under the new leadership of Kiren Rijiju has started cracking the whip. It has told the BCCI, according to a report, who should be in charge of dope-testing and how independent results management and adjudication processes have to be followed. The recent cases of three cricketers including Test player Prithvi Shaw should provide the catalyst that should see NADA take over charge. It has waited for more than 10 years. There is no more time to lose.