ICC anti-doping policy September 2, 2009

ICC postpones WADA meeting to October

The contentious whereabouts clause in the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code will be discussed directly by the ICC board, instead of a working group formed by it, with the BCCI appearing to have gained significant support from other ICC full members in its antagonistic stand on the matter. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, admitted on Wednesday he had been asked by other members to relook the governing body's position on the code.

In the event, Lorgat said, the code will now be discussed on October 6-7, instead of the previously scheduled meeting on September 5 of by the working committee.

"The meeting of the working group has been postponed because we are beginning to sense that the issue is broader than just India," Lorgat told Cricinfo. "There are a few other members who might be considering the same problem. So it doesn't make sense for us to just deal with India. We have got an existing ICC board decision we need to review because, remember, it was meant to be implemented from August 1. We put that on hold but the issue is a little bigger than that."

A senior official in the Indian board, meanwhile, told Cricinfo that the BCCI is confident that other "major boards" are now convinced that the Indian opposition to the whereabouts clause is valid and needs to be supported. India is pushing for the ICC to disassociate itself from WADA and form its own cricket-specific code but it would be difficult for other boards, including Cricket Australia, to back such a move due to their respective national anti-doping guidelines and the allied carrot of government funding.

Lorgat said that he would not name the ICC members who have asked for a relook but added that the goal was to find a practical solution. "It is not about forcing something that practically doesn't make sense," he said.

The Indian board is also hoping that a meeting of players' associations, including the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), with WADA representatives and a subsequent year-end review meeting between various governing bodies and the anti-doping agency would lead to a relaxation in the clause, at least for team sports.

The BCCI has backed the ICC's fight against drugs in sport but is looking at a process that does not involve testing during off-season.

The ICC implemented the new WADA code from January 1 and that included a clause which mandated cricketers nominated for an international testing pool to reveal to a ICC-nominated officer before every quarter details of their location for an hour every day for the next three months to facilitate out-of-competition testing.

This whereabouts system was to start from August 1 but was stalled after the 11 Indian cricketers in the pool, including Sachin Tendulkar, refused to reveal the required information citing security and privacy concerns.

The Indian board supported its players and said that the clause went against the national constitution's privacy guarantees. This prompted the ICC to set up a working group comprising of Tim Kerr, chairman of ICC Anti-Doping panel, BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, ICC principal advisor IS Bindra, Anil Kumble, the former captain who is a member of the WADA's Athlete Committee, and Lorgat.

The BCCI and the Indian players have faced considerable criticism for their decision to not abide by the WADA code, because cricketers from all other countries in the testing pool and India's top athletes have accepted the anti-doping regulations.

(With inputs from Ajay S Shankar)

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo