The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is in a dilemma. If it has to stick to the order of one of the disciplinary panel chairmen in word and spirit it will be in breach of the provisions in the World Anti-Doping Code.
It is however not in a position to ignore either the order of R.S. Chauhan, a lawyer, who is one of the chairmen of the disciplinary panels.
Chauhan writes at the end of each order (final decision): “This order should not be published or circulated.”
Article 14.2.2 of the Code says: “No later than 20 days after it has been determined in a hearing in accordance with Article 8 that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred, or such hearing has been waived, or the assertion of an anti-doping rule violation has not been timely challenged, the Anti-Doping Organization responsible for results management must publicly report the disposition of the anti-doping matter including the sport, the anti-doping rule violated, the name of the Athlete or other Person committing the violation, the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method involved and the Consequences imposed.”
Article 14.2.4 says: “For purposes of Article 14.2, publication shall be accomplished at a minimum by placing the required information on the Anti-Doping Organization’s Web site and leaving the information up for at least one year.”
The NADA rules are also the same.
There is no necessity to publish detailed orders though the NADA had agreed to publish such details around three years ago.
However, to date there is only one detailed order on the website, that deals with a weightlifter’s case, dated August 11, 2010, out of 348 cases disposed of by the panels till Monday.
The NADA does publish the names of the suspended athletes, the drugs in question and the periods of suspensions on its website quite regularly. Apart from this it has occasionally been issuing press releases on important decisions and topics including suspension orders.
Even decisions of the panel headed by Chauhan had been published in this fashion, much against his orders. Forgetting for a moment that the media may no longer have access to a few orders of the panel, headed by Chauhan, unless reporters are prepared to make out an application, the requirement of publishing at least a gist of such orders in order to adhere to the provisions in the Code will remain.
The Code says — and the NADA rules also state — hearings “shall be open to the public”.
If the hearings are public, unless “special circumstances” dictate otherwise, if there is a requirement under the Code to disclose at least minimum details of the decision within 20 days, why should there be any secrecy at all?
If the websites of the Supreme Court of India and those of the High Courts publish daily orders and judgements, should a quasi-judicial body be allowed to keep information away from the public domain?
“Transparency” is the key in anti-doping matters. The WADA believes in it. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) orders are published on its website. So, too, orders of panels involved in anti-doping arbitration proceedings in several countries including the US, Britain, Australia and Canada.