NADA to start conducting disciplinary hearings from May 08

Hearings will be conducted despite the national lockdown to ensure cases don’t pile up, says Navin Agarwal, DG, NADA.

Navin Agarwal...“Both Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and Anti-Doping Appeals Panel hearings will be conducted for the cases which are pending.”   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The National Anti-Doping Agency is all set to start conducting disciplinary hearings online from Friday, May 08.

Navin Agarwal, director general, NADA, told PTI: “We will be starting with our online hearings from May 08. Both Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) and Anti-Doping Appeals Panel (ADAP) hearings will be conducted for the cases which are pending.”

“Last year, they (ADDP and ADAP) did a remarkable job and disposed of so many cases which hasn’t happened earlier in the history of NADA. Our panels disposed of 180 cases which is a record for the agency,” he added.

Agarwal acknowledged that the unprecedented step would have its share of operational hassles, including listing inconsistent or unavailable internet. He said athletes would be allowed to participate via audio calls to ensure that things could be managed smoothly. “We understand that the athlete needs to have the [internet] facility at his home for the hearings. I know there are limitations. We are working on that and [have] made arrangements at our level. It will only be done on the availability of an athlete through either audio or video. I know in rural areas, internet bandwidth can be an issue or network, we are game with even an audio recording or a conference call,” he explained.

NADA had earlier conceded that testing had become difficult because of the lockdown.

ALSO READ | Discus thrower Sandeep Kumari gets four-year ban

Agarwal said efforts were on streamline the process. “We are requesting the ministry as the campuses in [National Institute of Sports], Patiala, and Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru, were closed and have barred entry or exit of any outsiders as per government guidelines. So we are taking this up with the ministry and would like to know whether our Dope Control Officers (DCOs) will be allowed inside the campuses for testing subject to all clearances,” he said.

Coronavirus precautions

Agarwal said another aspect of the task was the health of DCOs. “We have to ensure that DCOs should not have any COVID-19 symptoms and [they must not have] come in contact with patients in the last 14 days,” he said.

ALSO READ | Shot putter Navin Chikara banned for four years

“That is something that the management of the concerned training centres will be doing. Temperature checks of anyone who is entering from outside the campuses should not be a problem. Our DCOs have already been advised to follow social distancing norms, maintain a distance of two metres from the athlete and use masks and gloves and sanitisers,” he added.

Agarwal said the testing could resume once the national camps began again. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said efforts were on to get them restarted by the end of this month.

And what happens to the collected samples in the absence of a WADA-accredited laboratory in India and the many restrictions on flights abroad? “The cargo flights are still very much on so sending the samples [to Doha or Belgium laboratories] for testing is not an issue,” Agarwal responded.

“But it also depends from where the sample has been collected and also on the courier agency which delivers the sample. We have to find the availability of flights as timing is very important. It has to reach the destination in limited time frame,” he explained.

Agarwal said NADA was also ready with its mobile application, which would come in handy in educating athletes on the perils of doping violations. “We will soon be launching the NADA app, through which anti-doping awareness would be available. We will be also generating certificates for athletes, coaches, parents, who successfully complete the course along with answering the questionnaire,” he said.