K.P. Mohan

NEW DELHI: Reports have appeared in recent days that the Indian Premier League (IPL) could impose a ban on Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif if the latter is found guilty of having taken a prohibited drug or of being in possession of a narcotic substance when he was detained in Dubai.

The cricketer, on his way home from Mumbai after competing in the IPL, was detained at the Dubai International Airport last Sunday by Customs officials after they recovered a substance alleged to be a contraband drug.

Reports on Thursday quoted IPL CEO Sundar Raman as saying: “We have zero tolerance policy towards players doping. Decision on Asif will come once his test results are declared.”

Unless Asif was tested during the IPL and that result turns out to be “positive” for a banned substance, IPL will have no jurisdiction over the developing incident in Dubai. Not from an anti-doping perspective, that is.

A ‘positive’ during the IPL will of course be a full-blown anti-doping rule violation charge and that will need no further explanation from any official.

A few points need elaboration here to understand the anti-doping rules that can be applied in Asif’s case in Dubai in the event of either a positive drug test or a proven charge of possession of a drug.

Rules, whether they are IPL’s or that of the International Cricket Council (ICC) or the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), stipulate that samples can only be tested at WADA-accredited laboratories.

Asif’s samples were reportedly tested at a forensic laboratory in Dubai which is not a WADA-accredited laboratory.

In the first place, the test was not done under any anti-doping authority but was related to Customs regulations of a particular country.

‘Support period’

Even if we were to assume that the “support period” of the IPL was still in force and thus this could be taken as “in-competition,” it will be of little significance since this was not a testing under any anti-doping authority and the laboratory was not an accredited one. Thus the test result will become irrelevant from an anti-doping perspective.

(‘Support period’ according to IPL anti-doping rules means five days before the first match in the relevant IPL season and three days after the last match of a relevant season.)

Can Asif then be charged by any of the cricketing bodies including the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for possession of a banned recreational drug, if the Dubai authorities actually brought such a charge against him or it is proved that the substance was a contraband drug?

From a purely anti-doping standpoint, here also, the answer is ‘no.’

Recreational drugs are banned in sports also. Coming under the S7 (narcotics, e.g. morphine/ opium, heroin) and S8 (cannabinoids, e.g. hashish, marijuana) classification in the WADA prohibited list, they, like stimulants, are banned ‘in-competition’.

That means, if a player turned up ‘positive’ for narcotics or cannabinoids during the IPL then he could be banned, but not outside the competition.

Not an offence

The same way, possession of narcotic drugs is not an offence under the WADA rules since they are not substances that are prohibited out of competition.

The WADA Code says: 2.6 Possession of Prohibited Substances and Methods: 2.6.1 Possession by an athlete in-competition of any prohibited method or any prohibited substance, or possession by an athlete out-of-competition of any prohibited method or any prohibited substance which is prohibited in out-of-competition testing, unless the athlete establishes that the possession is pursuant to a therapeutic use exemption granted in accordance with Article 4.4 (Therapeutic Use) or other acceptable justification.

ICC, IPL and all anti-doping agencies follow the prohibited list issued by WADA from time to time.

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