Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In disclosing the name of Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif as the player who had tested positive during the recent edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the IPL or the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did not breach the confidentiality clause of the World Anti-Doping Code.

The IPL did, however, violate its own anti-doping code in naming the player.

A report from Karachi, quoting a Pakistani official, had stated on Monday that the IPL had made a deviation from the WADA Code in publicly disclosing Asif’s name before his ‘B’ sample was tested.

The code

The WADA Code says: “14.2 Public disclosure: The identity of athletes whose samples have resulted in adverse analytical findings or athletes or other persons who were alleged by an anti-doping organization to have violated other anti-doping rules, may be publicly disclosed by the anti-doping organization with results management responsibility no earlier than completion of the administrative review described in Articles 7.1 and 7.2…”

Article 7.1: “Initial review regarding adverse analytical findings: Upon receipt of an ‘A’ sample adverse analytical finding, the anti-doping organization responsible for results management shall conduct a review to determine whether: (a) an applicable therapeutic use exemption has been granted or (b) there is any apparent departure from the International Standards for Testing or laboratory analysis that undermines the validity of the adverse analytical finding.”

Article 7.2: “Notification after initial review: If the initial review under Article 7.1 does not reveal an applicable therapeutic use exemption or departure that undermines the validity of the adverse analytical finding, the anti-doping organization shall promptly notify the athlete, in the manner set out in its rules, of: (a) the adverse analytical finding; (b) the anti-doping rule violated; or, in a case under Article 7.3, a description of the additional investigation that will be conducted as to whether there is an anti-doping rule violation; (c) the athlete’s right to promptly request the analysis of the ‘B’ sample or, failing such request, that the ‘B’ sample analysis may be deemed waived; (d) the right of the athlete and/or the athlete’s representative to attend the ‘B’ sample opening and analysis if such analysis is requested and (e) the athlete’s right to request copies of the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sample laboratory documentation package which includes information as required by the International Standard for laboratory analysis.”

Unless someone can prove that the IPL or the Board disclosed to the media, officially, the name of the Pakistani cricketer before the IPL had a chance to inform the player, his home board and franchisee, there is no way anyone can pin a breach of WADA rules on IPL.

Other factor

The only other factor could be if the substance happens to be one that is also endogenously produced, for example testosterone. In that case, if there was no validation through an Isotope Ratio Measurement Spectrometry (IRMS), then further investigation would be required, leading to a delay in naming the athlete.

As for the IPL code, the situation becomes different and there is a clear breach.

Says IPL anti-doping code (16.2): “Public disclosure: Neither IPL nor Franchisees shall publicly identify cricket players whose samples have resulted in adverse analytical findings, or who were alleged to have violated other clauses of this anti-doping code until it has been determined in a hearing in accordance with clause 8 (results management) that an anti-doping code violation has occurred, or such hearing has been waived, or the assertion of an anti-doping code violation has been timely challenged or the cricketer has been provisionally suspended. Once a violation of this anti-doping code has been established, it shall be publicly reported within 20 days.”

A little caution on the part of IPL would have been in order, considering its inexperience. A few more days to complete ‘B’ sample procedures, would not have mattered, no matter how much of speculation the media would have indulged in.

Considering Asif’s recent detention in Dubai, it is worth looking into the implications of such a drug turning up in urine analysis. Opium (morphine) comes under the S7 (narcotics) category in the prohibited list. It will attract a two-year suspension. On the other hand, cannabinoids (eg. hashish) come under the S8 category and this group of recreational drugs also comes under ‘specified substances.’

If a player can prove that the use of a ‘specified substance’ was not intended to enhance performance, he may escape with just a warning at a minimum or a maximum one-year suspension.

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