FICA news July 31, 2009

No waivers for India, says FICA

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The WADA penalty
  • The ICC's new WADA code requires players to inform ICC 90 days in advance (each quarter) a location and time that they will be available each day in that quarter for testing. If the player is not in the location at the time specified, he/she will have a strike recorded against his name. Three such strikes and the player will have breached the code and can face penalties up to a two-year ban.
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The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) has warned that if the ICC does not penalise India's players for failing to submit to the new anti-doping norms in time, it would ensure that players from all other countries would be relieved from similar obligations.

Tim May, the FICA chief executive, admitted that concerns expressed by India's players on the code's requirements were genuine and similar to those already voiced by FICA. However, he suggested that Indian players should not be given a waiver of any sort on the issue because players from all other countries have agreed to abide by the ICC code.

India's players, who are not members of FICA, have voiced concerns about the security and practicality aspects associated with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) compliant code. The code requires players in the testing pool, including 11 Indian players, to submit details in advance of their whereabouts for the next three months to facilitate effective out-of-competition testing. The Indian players have missed the July 31 deadline for submitting the information and are awaiting a meeting between the ICC and BCCI on Sunday to get their concerns addressed on the norms, which prescribe severe penalties in case of default. Three Indian players in the testing pool, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag, are expected to attend the meeting.

"If the ICC is unable to convince Indian players to provide this information, ICC will find itself in a difficult situation because their universal policy will not be adhered to by all countries," May told Cricinfo. "From a player association perspective, if the Indian players do not have to comply with the whereabouts provision or don't suffer penalties for not filing such information, then we will certainly be ensuring that ICC lift this obligation from the rest of the teams. ICC will either have to cite the Indian players for filing failures or relieve all other players from all other countries from the need to comply with this regulation. For the regulation to be operative, it must apply equally to all teams or not at all."

The ICC put in place the WADA code from January 1 and has since conducted familiarisation sessions for all international players who were selected to the testing pool based on their ICC ranking that month. The Indian players were briefed on the norms by ICC officials during their New Zealand tour in March.

"My understanding is that Indian players have expressed significant concerns as to the confidentiality of the information that they provide - on a privacy and security standpoint," May said. "These are legitimate concerns which ICC will need to deal with in providing comfort to the players that their information is at all times secure."

May said that the FICA would continue to raise its concerns on the code with the ICC and also attend a meeting in September between WADA and representatives from other world players' associations in September. "We, along with a number of other sporting organisations and player associations from other sports, have significant concerns with the administrational and privacy aspects," he said. "There is a meeting of a number of world player associations in London with WADA to discuss, among other things, concerns with the whereabouts requirements for those who participate in team sports."

Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo