Administration of Anti-Doping rules in India
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), since its inception in 1999, has imposed stringent measures so that sport stays drug-free. In India, WADA’s rules have been enforced by the Government-run National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and almost all sports federations had fallen in line except one — the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

However, now BCCI has agreed to come under NADA’s supervision. Indian cricket’s governing body finally agreed to subject its players to NADA’s testing routines. Earlier, the BCCI had resisted NADA’s intervention.

What was the objection raised by BCCI?
The main objection pertained to the ‘where-abouts’ clause, which made it mandatory for a player to reveal where he would be on a daily basis. The need for privacy was offered as an excuse.

Conflict of interest
Earlier, the BCCI had its in-house dope-tests but it only lent credence to the allegations about conflict of interest. The issue came to a boil when Prithvi Shaw was given a back-dated eight-month suspension after he tested positive for a banned drug, Terbutaline. The 19-year-old batsman, who was checked in February, claimed that the substance was present in an over-the-counter cough syrup. Shaw’s excuse and the BCCI’s quick acceptance of his self-medication, bred scepticism. It is either naivety or a classic cover-up from an Indian cricketer, who had been advised about the chemicals that have to be avoided even for therapeutic purposes.

Implications of this episode
This episode hastened the BCCI’s move into the NADA’s ambit and also cleared the decks for the Indian women’s cricket team to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games at Birmingham. With the BCCI belatedly allowing NADA to monitor its domestic cricketers, by extension the International Cricket Council too has finally come under the WADA’s unerring gaze. In these hyper-kinetic times, it is a fallacy to stress that cricket is just a reflection of skill and that drug-enhanced muscular efficiency cannot influence match results. Sport has to be a level playing-field and it is finally one with the willow-game subjecting itself to universal drug-testing rules.