Is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) compliant with the World Anti Doping Code?
The popular perception is it is not. It would be forced to follow the Code once the National Sports Bill is finalised by the Government and passed by Parliament. So goes the argument.
That might mean Team India and its members would be brought under the ‘whereabouts' clause and be forced to give out details that top cricketers had been refusing to give on the plea of breach of privacy.
The proposed Bill was rejected by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday and the Sports Ministry was asked to redraft it, amending certain intrusive provisions.
But let us get back to the compliance status of the Board. Has it got anything to do with the proposed Bill?
‘No' is the answer, at least for the time being.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) became a Code signatory in July, 2006. Being a signatory does not mean an organization is Code compliant.
Compliance by signatories is always an ongoing process. In November, 2008, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), following a review lasting more than two years, named the ICC as one of the non-compliant bodies.
The ICC basically lacked an effective out-of-competition testing programme at that time. It also did not have an International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) and a ‘whereabouts programme', two key issues that were to rake up a huge controversy less than a year later.
By July, 2010, the ICC, however, came up with the most ‘innovative' IRTP and put that into practice from August 1. Obviously, the attempt was to placate the BCCI and not to upset the top Indian cricketers by trying to “intrude” into their privacy. It also incorporated an out-of-competition testing format.
Not a single top international cricketer is, however, in the ICC IRTP barring a few who are either retired or are embroiled in disciplinary proceedings because the ICC has started off with an IRTP that primarily includes past offenders in a sport that has hardly had a history in doping.
But the arrangement was acceptable to the WADA. As long as the ICC is a Code signatory and has seemingly rectified the lacunae in its rules no one should have a complaint.
The ICC anti-doping code says: “The ICC is a Signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code (the “Code”). It goes without saying that the BCCI, being an affiliated unit of the ICC, is bound by its anti-doping rules and would be deemed to be WADA Code compliant. If there is a problem with the compliance of the BCCI it is for the WADA to point that out to the ICC.
Does the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) have any authority over the BCCI or the cricketers in anti-doping matters?
So far, it is again a ‘no', at least in practice. Can this change once a sports law is enacted incorporating the NADA rules?
That could be possible, according to the Sports Ministry. At least that is the impression it has created among the commentators. It is debatable.
The BCCI has not responded to any of the letters from the NADA including those related to ‘whereabouts'. Unlike other federations which are being subjected to the NADA rules on the argument that they were all “deemed” to have accepted these rules, the BCCI, a financially independent body, has kept itself at a distance.
Unless the NADA rules are amended, the BCCI would continue to be on a strong wicket since the rules require the federations to incorporate the anti-doping rules “either directly or by reference” into their "governing documents, constitution and/or rules.”
The players are bound by the rules of the BCCI and the NADA's authority over the players can only be established by the BCCI accepting the NADA rules.
Even if the BCCI comes under the NADA ‘whereabouts' regime, the international players would be out of that bracket. The NADA will haveto deal with only National-level players.
Of course the NADA can recommend to the Government to initiate action against the BCCI, even de-recognise it. But then that stage is still a long way off. No federation has so far incorporated the anti-doping rules into its constitution though letters had gone out from NADA around three years ago. Many of them have not even replied to NADA just as the BCCI has not.