Principal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: More than three years from the start of the 19th Commonwealth Games here, the Organising Committee of the 2010 Games has virtually given up the idea of getting the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) accreditation for the Dope Control Centre (DCC) of the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

The Chairman of the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 (OCCG 2010), Suresh Kalmadi, said that the WADA-accredited lab in Bangkok would be utilised to test the urine samples taken during every international and national events that India will host in the coming years.

"We did that during the National Games in Guwahati this February and we have caught quite a few dope cheaters," said Mr. Kalmadi.

When asked how long would it take for the DCC to get the WADA-accreditation, Mr. Kalmadi was non-committal. "It should have happened by now. It is taking more time than expected and we are very concerned about it," he said.

When reminded that the DCC failed WADA tests in the past that has put back the SAI laboratory's accreditation procedure, Mr. Kalmadi said he had no idea about it. In worst case, the OCCG 2010 will send samples to Bangkok.

Besides failing the WADA test, the DCC has been testing competitors going abroad as a precautionary measure, which is in direct contravention of the WADA Code of ethics. With India having signed the Copenhagen Declaration on doping in sports the DCC will have to be further accountable to what tests are done at its premises.

Further, India is to ratify UNESCO Convention on doping which will make it legally binding document for the government.

Weight of responsibility

Though there is still time for the DCC to get on with the accreditation process and get the WADA clearance, the authorities here are reluctant owing to the responsibility the laboratory will have to adhere to once the accreditation comes along.

The DCC will have to test at least 1500 samples every year as per WADA stipulation and report every test it does to WADA, something that the national sports federations dither about.

If the concern about dope testing was not enough, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Co-ordination Commission on Wednesday rapped the OCCG 2010 about little progress in the marketing and sponsorship of the Games.

"While there is evidence of growing momentum in Games planning, the CGF remains concerned about slippages which much be addressed immediately by the Organising Committee," said Austin Sealy, Chairman of the Games' Co-ordination Committee and the Treasurer of the CGF.

The staffing, contracting or experts and suppliers, establishment of Organising Committee systems including technology, procurement and headquarters office and evolution of the Organising Committee was on the highest priority.

Games planning, at an international standard and adopting best practice for the Commonwealth Games, was behind schedule and must be accelerated immediately, the CGF reminded the OCCG 2010.

It has also sought to ensure that there would be effective coordination of all government agencies with the OCCG 2010 and in particular a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of each party.

Though the CGF was satisfied with the budget allocated for the Games, it said that the OCCG 2010 should convince the Government of India to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate any contingencies.

Review of budget

The Co-ordination Commission, which is set to meet every six months till the Commonwealth Games, will review the budget in its next meeting here later this year.

A visibly upset Mr. Kalmadi said that the OCCG 2010 was well on the course and construction of entire stadia would be completed by December 2009 and that it would take over the venues in January 2010.

He said the OCCG 2010 budget was pegged at Rs. 767 crores. For the renovation and construction of stadia, the SAI has been allocated Rs. 1000 crores, while the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which will construct the athletes' village has a budget of Rs. 875 crores of which Rs. 400 crores will be funded by private firms.

While the OCCG 2010 is yet to get sponsors, Mr. Kalmadi made an audacious claim that it would refund the entire Rs. 767 crores to the government through earning from merchandising, TV rights, ticket sales and sponsorships.

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