WADA extends suspension of India's NDTL by six months

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had first suspended India's National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in August last year for a period of six months.

The course, ‘ADeL for Tokyo 2020 Olympics’, has been developed by WADA in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee and the International Testing Agency (ITA)

A fresh round of inspection by WADA showed that non-conformities still existed within the NDTL.   -  FILE PHOTO

Indian sports’ anti-doping programme continues to flounder, with the World Anti-Doping Agency extending the suspension of the National Dope Testing Laboratory for further six months.

The NDTL was originally suspended in August last year and since then, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has been functioning without an accredited lab, forced to send any samples abroad (mainly Doha) for testing. The other nearest lab, in Bangkok, is also suspended. NADA, however, has suspended sample collection for now due to COVID-19 even though training camps for several sports have already resumed.

The suspension, which prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples, was imposed due to “non-conformities with the International Standard for Laboratories as identified during a WADA site visit, including about the laboratory’s Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) analytical method,” WADA said in a statement late on Tuesday.

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In fact, given the way things have progressed in the last 11 months and the provision for a further six-month suspension beyond the present one, there is a danger that India may not be able to do any testing at home before Olympics 2021. “Should the laboratory not address the non-conformities by the end of the six-month suspension period, WADA may extend the suspension of the laboratory’s accreditation for up to an additional six months,” the statement added.

With certain outstanding non-conformities not addressed successfully even after the six-month period had elapsed, WADA’s Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) recommended initiation of further disciplinary proceedings in February this year by an independent Disciplinary Committee. “The disciplinary process is now complete and the second six-month suspension began on 17 July 2020. Pursuant to Article 13.7 of the World Anti-Doping Code, the NDTL may appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days of receipt of the notice,” the statement added.

The previous suspension had come in the wake of disciplinary proceedings initiated in May 2019 that, the Sports Ministry claimed, followed a WADA team inspection of the facilities way back in September 2018, clearly indicating that the NDTL’s credibility has been in question since then. The ministry did not challenge the decision last year.

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