K.P. Mohan

NEW DELHI: The Director-General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), David Howman, has said the problem regarding the ‘whereabouts' rules in cricket was for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to resolve.

In an interview to The Hindu on Monday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific inter-governmental meeting on doping in sports, Howman said: “To me there is no impasse; there never was. The issue is with India; it is not an international issue. It is a political issue within the world of cricket. It is not my issue”

Leading Indian cricketers who were included in the International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) had protested against, what they claimed was, an intrusion into their privacy and refused to accept the ‘whereabouts' rules by which they had to provide advance information to the authorities about their daily locations throughout the year.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) backed the players, leading to a situation where the ICC itself put the ‘whereabouts' on hold and stopped the application of penalties.

Good progress

Howman said he had a recent meeting with the ICC in Barbados and was satisfied with the progress the two parties had made. He said the ICC had an international testing programme now, but its testing pool was awaiting approval.

“What I still don't know is what is the opinion of the BCCI on this,” said Howman. When pointed out that the BCCI had informed the ICC, according to the latter, that there could be a violation of the Indian Constitution if the ‘whereabouts' were insisted upon, Howman said: “But I haven't seen it.”

The WADA DG said the ICC had been told, over recent meetings, to give its IRTP and “we are waiting to hear on that.”

He said a review was done recently to assess how the ‘whereabouts' rules were applied and WADA found considerable differences across sport and across countries.

There was a process that was going on to see how the rules were applied in practice and organisations were being told that every athlete who was in the IRTP should be tested. “No point in being in that list and not being tested.”

The fundamental principles involved in listing athletes in the IRTP were to include athletes who were ‘suspicious', who belonged to the top international ranking list, those coming back from injuries and those who could be included based on some other information, he said. On other topics: Review of the Code: In general the revision of the Code was successful; in particular that of the ‘whereabouts' rules. We have 13,000 international athletes in the ‘whereabouts' lists. We have 95 per cent of the athletes who are in agreement with this. You don't change a rule for five per cent. There were small pockets of resistance. When you talk about breach of rights and breach of privacy, that is normal for me in anti-doping. My question has been “what right is being breached here”. Nobody specified any breach that was disproportionate. When people have to pee in a bottle in front of someone that is breach of privacy. It is acceptable because cheating in sports is unacceptable to us. About sanctions: We lack harmonious sanctions. There is more flexibility in sanctions. The differences have come in ‘specified substances'. And there has been no penalty of four years that had been introduced for ‘aggravated circumstances'. Lot of people wanted such sanctions. But no one has done that.

Testing at multi-discipline games: You have to be very silly to test positive at such games. What I want to see is more pre-games testing. We have to, however, test during games because the world has to be assured that those who are winning are ‘clean'.

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper