The Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee has suggested that there should be an overhaul of the anti-doping programme in the country.
It has observed that the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) should be made independent from the Government, as laid down in the World Anti-Doping Code, and stakeholders needed to understand and implement their duties under the Code.
“The committee finds that due to the nature of the current set up of the NADA (control of Sports Authority of India and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports), the independence of NADA may be hampered.”
The panel also noted that the NADA may also be influenced by “strong National Sports Federations and their administrators”.
It said that appropriate measures needed to be “put in place well in time to prevent this issue from arising in the near future to retain the desired autonomy of NADA.”
In its final report, submitted to the Union Sports Ministry around 10 months ago, the one-man committee, appointed in the wake of a rash of doping cases reported among elite Indian athletes in July, 2011, has recommended that the NADA should set up a dedicated phone line for providing consultation to the athletes and coaches on anti-doping programmes.
It has also suggested that a separate laboratory be identified to test the dietary supplements since the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) cannot undertake this task, bound as it is by the regulations of the WADA.
Justice Mukul Mudgal (retd.) was appointed by the Sports Ministry amidst a major doping scandal that broke last year involving six woman 400m runners apart from two other athletes.
The committee gave its preliminary report related to the six athletes in November last year and followed up with its final report, containing findings and suggestions to improve the anti-doping set-up.
The reports have not been made public by the ministry so far, though part of the findings in the preliminary report had appeared in sections of the media in December last year. They mainly pertained to the observations by the panel that the six athletes — now under two-year suspensions — had consumed contaminated ginseng, supplied by the foreign coach, inadvertently leading to their ‘positive’ tests.
In its final report, the committee has stressed on the anti-doping education programme from the school-level to the elite level, (found drawbacks in the functioning of the NADA) and castigated all the stakeholders for passing the buck and only waking up to their tasks only when major doping violations occurred.
In the section dealing with the NADA, the panel has stressed on what information needed to be given to the athletes and others, when to provide such information, where anti-doping education should take place and how the education is to be imparted, among other points. It also stated that it was very important to provide anti-doping education to younger athletes before they fell within the elite category.
It was noted that the athletes, coaches and support personnel were largely unaware of the ADAMS (Anti-Doping Management and Administrative System) which had been developed by the WADA to co-ordinate anti-doping efforts among its stakeholders.
The NADA has been advised to provide information through a variety of means and to co-ordinate efforts with the Sports Ministry and the Law Ministry to regulate manufacture and supply of supplements.
It has also been suggested that the NADA should develop systems to conduct joint investigation programmes with the federations, police and other government agencies.
The panel recommended that the number of sample collections should be increased with all medal winners being tested with those showing sudden spurt in improvement being targeted.
Six sports disciplines, athletics, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling, bodybuilding and powerlifting, were listed as priority areas where the NADA could devote more of its attention.
Justice Mudgal noted that the athletes needed to stop relying blindly on the advice of the coaches and support personnel while taking supplements or medicines.