Gloves Off

More twists expected in standoff between BCCI and anti-doping body

The cricket board is resisting the NADA as it thinks that could be the precursor to allowing the National Sports Code 2011 to become applicable to it.

 |  Gloves Off  |  4-minute read |   12-11-2017
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The cricket board is resisting the NADA because it thinks letting it come into the picture could be the first step to allow the National Sports Code 2011 to become applicable to it.

True to expectations, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has rejected missives from the sports ministry to let the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) test its cricketers for anti-doping violations.

There was a hint of trouble last month when the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) statistics for 2016 revealed that a cricketer had tested positive in a test conducted by the BCCI. Till date, the identity of the player and the competition in which the sample was tested have not been revealed.

Yet, it appears that even WADA has been at its wits’ end as far as getting the International Cricket Council (ICC) to impress upon its members to let their respective National Anti-Doping Agencies retain charge of the testing and result management is concerned. But that appears to be the only way that BCCI would recognise NADA as a testing authority.

This is not the first time the BCCI has had a run-in with the sports ministry. For a body which has no qualms about even taking on the Supreme Court and dragged its feet when ordered to form a new constitution, this is not surprising.

The other point raised by the BCCI is that it is not a national sports federation and therefore does not need to be a signatory to the NADA rules. The point is that doping is a very sensitive subject. Irrespective of the sport, level of competition and at what age an athlete is caught, it generates a lot of interest.

Former BCCI president and BJP member of parliament Anurag Thakur might push the National Sports Ethic Commission Bill in Parliament. Photo: PTIFormer BCCI president and BJP member of parliament Anurag Thakur might push the National Sports Ethic Commission Bill in Parliament. Photo: PTI

In India, doping is a big menace from the local level to national level and finally the international level. One hears of so many juniors also now falling for the bait as the pressure to perform and continuously raise the bar has to be dealt with. Despite all talk of education on the subject, sports hostels and small gyms see rampant doping.

People use supplements indiscreetly and no one knows how many banned substances they contain. In India, ever since its inception, the NADA has been vested with the powers to conduct anti-doping tests on athletes. It has been itching for a long time to bring cricket under its umbrella.

Yet, the BCCI has always baulked at that. For its part, the BCCI keeps insisting that it is governed by the ICC’s anti-doping rules and it manages sample collection though a private agency and gets the samples tested in the WADA accredited National Dope Testing Laboratory. The BCCI has always felt there is no need for the NADA to come into the picture as it could be the first step to letting the National Sports Code 2011 becoming applicable to it.

However, there could be a twist to the tale if former BCCI president and BJP member of parliament Anurag Thakur is able to push the National Sports Ethic Commission Bill in Parliament. The private member’s bill is ready to be tabled in the Lok Sabha after President Ramnath Kovind cleared it.

If one flips through the well-intentioned proposals in the bill, some are quite draconian and there are nuances in it. It suggests 10 years RI (rigorous imprisonment) and a stiff fine for a doping offence, match-fixing and sexual harassment and a year’s RI for age-fraud.

There is also a proposal in the Bill for transfer of all cases where sports federations have been impleaded in lower courts to the national sports ethics commission. The bill has detailed out who could be part of the ethics commission. The bill has smartly used the term “sports federation” rather than “national sports federation”.

In case the bill does get through Parliament and becomes an act of law, even the BCCI will be bound by it. It will be bound by the law of the land, whether or not it is a signatory to the NADA rules. That would mean the BCCI ethics committee will have to be aligned with the Act.

Should Thakur’s proposed Bill get passed, cricketers who test positive for doping will also be liable for such punishment as other athletes. The BCCI will not be able to protect them by insisting that it is not a national sports federation, even though it may retain the freedom to draw up its own ethics committee and rules.

Yes, there is a need for stringent laws on sports fraud. Perhaps, if the proposals in the national sports ethics commission bill can be refined further, it can be the law that dissuades athletes from resorting to doping to enhance performance.

The NDA government has taken several measures to curb black money and a year post demonetisation, a lot of good has happened. Similarly, putting in place stringent measures to tackle menaces in Indian sport must be welcomed. If that happens, ousted BCCI president Anurag Thakur can have the last laugh.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Writer

S Kannan S Kannan @kannandelhi

Sports columnist.

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