BCCI finally agrees to come under NADA ambit

NEW DELHI : From the time the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) adopted its anti-doping rules in 2009, there has been a constant tussle between them and the National Anti Doping Agency over the jurisdiction of cricketers. NADA, which was formed in 2006, contested it had the authority to conduct dope tests on all athletes, including cricketers. The BCCI defied their claim, citing that since it did not take any funds from the government and was not a National Sports Federation – as defined by the sports ministry – it was not obliged to have its players tested by them.

These arguments have been played out over and over again. But it was only on Friday – almost after 10 years after this dispute began – that the BCCI finally agreed to come under the ambit of NADA. So what changed now?

The immediate trigger can be traced to a question in the Parliament by Shiv SenaLok Sabha member from Mumbai, Vinayak Raut, in June. Raut asked sports minister Kiren Rijiju ‘if the sports ministry had issued directives to the BCCI on this issue and if the BCCI had defied government’s directives on dope tests.’

Rijiju took a firm stand. His statement, tabled in the Lok Sabha on June 27, read: “It (NADA) has jurisdiction over all athletes and sports associations in India. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was apprised of this for compliance… BCCI not being a recognized Dope Testing Agency under WADA Code, its stand was not found acceptable.”

A day before, on June 26, the sports ministry had shot off a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, citing flaws in their anti-doping mechanisms and hinting at conflict of interest since the board itself tested and handed punishments to its players. Since then, Johri met sports secretary Radheyshyam Julaniya twice – first only July 9 – and then exactly a month later, on Friday.

In both meetings, the ministry did not waver in its position. It rejected BCCI’s proposal that they will allow NADA to test 10 percent of its total samples; that too of junior and under-23 players. “We made it clear that there can’t be separate laws for cricket. The government respects what BCCI has done to spread the game but the law is same for everyone,” Julaniya said.

At the same time, the BCCI claimed the ministry was pressurizing them to comply with the anti-doping code by not clearing the tours of South Africa ‘A’ and women teams. On August 6, the ministry wrote a letter to the BCCI, saying it would grant the necessary NOCs only after it gave an assurance that they would agree to comply with NADA rules. Eventually, the BCCI relented on Friday.