ICC's anti-doping policy August 2, 2009

BCCI backs players on anti-doping

Cricinfo staff

The Indian board has backed its players and rejected the contentious 'whereabouts' clause in the amended World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) code, which was implemented by the ICC from January 1, as it was "unreasonable". This decision was taken at a meeting of the BCCI's working committee in Mumbai on Sunday and places the ICC in a difficult position.

The ICC's executive board, of which India is a member, will now discuss the issue to find a way forward. A resolution would ideally have to be reached before the start of the next ICC event, the Champions Trophy in September in South Africa, where India is one of the eight participating teams. International players from all countries in the ICC's anti-dope testing pool have agreed to abide by the code, despite privacy and practicality concerns about the 'whereabouts' clause, except the 11 from India. The code prescribes stringent penalties in case of default (see box).

MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, who were present at the BCCI meeting, maintained that security concerns remained if they had to reveal their location in advance for an hour every day for the next three months to facilitate out-of-competition testing, as mandated by the 'whereabouts' norm in the amended WADA code.

In response to these concerns that were expressed earlier too, the ICC had promised to implement a "reasonable" testing programme that will be conducted around matches, and not on holidays or when players are on vacation. The ICC had also sent its company lawyer to address the BCCI's concerns on the WADA system during the Sunday meeting. But an Indian board official told Cricinfo that Iain Higgins, the lawyer, was not called upon at all by the BCCI's working committee.

Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, said the board did not have a problem with dope testing but only with the system of keeping checks when the players are not engaged in training camps or playing matches. Manohar said the BCCI would suggest to the ICC that instead of players revealing their whereabouts information in advance, the governing body should consult the Indian board which will ensure that the player will be available within 24 hours at the required location for testing.

The suggestion, however, is unlikely to lead to a solution as the WADA, which is an independent anti-doping watchdog set up by the International Olympic Committee, has made it clear in a recent statement that no exemption to the code will be granted to any federation. If the Indian board refuses to budge on the issue, the ICC will have to consider pulling out of the WADA umbrella, which will undermine its fight to ensure a clean sport, its credibility and reputation on the world stage, and rule out cricket from global multi-sport events such as Asian Games and Olympics.

"We believe the clause with regard to whereabouts of cricketers is unreasonable for three reasons," Manohar said. "Firstly, some Indian cricketers have security cover, and when you have a security cover, you cannot disclose your whereabouts to a third person. Secondly, the privacy of individuals cannot be invaded. Third, the constitution of India gives a guarantee to every citizen regarding his privacy which cannot be invaded. We can appreciate players being tested even when they are not playing. But if ICC or WADA want to test the players, they can inform the board which will get the players at the required location within 24 hours. This is our suggestion."

Manohar claimed that though the anti-doping code has been in discussion since 2006, when the ICC became a WADA signatory, and the amended version was approved by the ICC board last year, the testing system, including the whereabouts clause, was never deliberated upon in any of the governing body's meetings.

Asked what the ICC would do next, Manohar, who represents India on the governing body's board, said, "The implications of this decision would be decided after we write to the ICC. Today, it would be jumping the gun."

Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC spokesperson, said the ICC and BCCI were committed to finding a practical solution. "We are aware of the issues of concerns, and we are confident they can be adhered to everyone's satisfaction. The matter will now be considered by ICC board," he said.

Top Curve
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.
Bottom Curve

The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), of which India is not a member, has warned that if the ICC did 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.

Concerns about the 'whereabouts' clause in the amended WADA code is not a cricket-specific issue and has been treated as a matter of concern in other sports, particularly team sports such as football. FIFA, football's governing body, is still not completely WADA-compliant due to similar concerns and has suggested that only players they deem as high-risk be included in the testing pool. Tennis stars such as Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have also spoken out against revealing whereabouts information in advance. There is a meeting of world player associations, including FICA, in London in early September with WADA to discuss these concerns. The ICC will also raise these concerns with WADA at a review meeting this year-end.

Another Indian board official said after Sunday's meeting that the ICC will have to renegotiate the issue with WADA. "The ICC have to take up a dialogue with WADA," Rajiv Shukla, a BCCI vice-president, said. "Football players also declined to sign the clause and the FIFA is engaged in negotiation with WADA, so that would be the case of ICC also," Shukla said.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vhreddy on August 7, 2009, 14:57 GMT

    it is time to the Indian players &bcci to go through the Doping issue ,why they are not accepting to do the Doping test for players ,there is nothing wrong in doing doping test,all the world teams accepted that ,why Indian players are not ready to sign it is rediculous this issue should be solved as soon as possible

  • Christopher on August 5, 2009, 23:30 GMT

    I don't think I've ever felt better disposed towards Harbajhan et al., or the BCCI, than I do over this issue. WADA struts and frets its' hour on the global sporting stage, affecting to be the supreme guarantor of sporting integrity, whilst displaying an unseemly relish in forcing submission from every sport it encounters. It does bear reiteration that FIFA, the governing, and actually potent and relevant, body in the most prosperous sport on the planet, have accepted only a part of WADA's prescriptions. I hope technology would permit for a compromise whereby the continued integrity of the Indian players could be assured, without providing WADA with undue control over players. If no compromise is forthcoming, I would rather see a code peculiar to the rhythms, cadences and idiosyncrasies of cricket instituted, than see cricket abased befpre WADA.

  • Him on August 5, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    I really do hope the BCCI work constructively with the other boards, ICC and WADA. For the sake of world cricket's reputation as well as Indian cricket's. Even though I concur that top cricketers' security is a real issue in India. The KEY policy objective should be dope testing without (significant) notice at any time of the year; NOT knowledge of player whereabouts year-round. If BCCI's current suggestion (to produce cricketers for WADA testing at 24 hr's notice) is unacceptable (though it sounds reasonable), then maybe they should request ICC and WADA to allow the whereabouts info to be stored exclusively with India's Home Ministry (sort of a homeland security ministry), which would relay it to WADA (say a day before desired testing date) once they decide which individuals are to be tested (surely that final selection should be largely independent of information about players location). Can't all parties contribute some innovativeness and a little flexibility?

  • Kamal on August 5, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    I think most of the 'amused' commentators seem to forget 2 important points.

    - Indian fans may be fanatical about the game but some of them are completely violent lunatics as well when the team loses. Still this isn't as big a concern as the second factor.

    - Everyone seems to also have a Goldfish memory on the well planned terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team. So the Indian cricketers have to play sitting duck for the tech-savvy terrorists. Is WADA even noticing that?

    All the other Indian sports "stars" from other sports in India are bantering about there being no issue - sure there isn't! No one even knows them! I wonder who will be going after them! "There he is, the sharp shooting champion!"

    Once again, the cricketers are not at all against the drug testing, its about security. Just because they have God status hence a high-liability status unlike their Australian/English peers, they cant be blamed for that.

  • Umesh on August 4, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    I find this whole issue amusing than anything else. It's hard to digest that in this era of technological advances, there is no technological solution that can meet both sides concerns !! If 571 sporting bodies have accepted this, why is WADA willing to discuss the issue in sept with various players bodies ? On BCCI's part, it seems more of a political gains issue than anything else. BCCI is taking exactly opposite stand to what Indian govt does these days and it's not hard to understand why.

  • Gerald on August 4, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    The "privacy" issue is a joke because these players have put themselves in the spotlight and are famous by their own choice. Playing cricket at this level is a great privilege. No one is being forced to play cricket, but if you do, you have to abide by the ICC rules and regulations, just as if you choose to fly on an airplane you agree to submit yourself to an invasive search even though it violates the fourth amendment.

    It is almost inevitable that WADA will reject this idea, because if it makes an exception for cricket, other sports will demand the same.

    Ultimately it will come down, once again, to how much the BCCI wants to flex its muscle. I can't imagine South African, or Australian Cricket demanding that the ICC pull out of WADA, but it won't surprise me when the BCCI do.

  • Bob on August 4, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    Why not solve the problem technologically? If they aren't all that administratively inclined, why can't they be handed out GPS enabled devices that can only be traceable by WADA agents? That way security and all this whingeing will come to a complete end.

  • Rajaram on August 4, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    Indian Cricketeres have grown too big for their boots - in fact they are not worthy of the superstar status. It is only in India that cultism is practised. That is why these cricketers do not know the meaning of humility.They are not even worth an ounce of Tiger Woods or Roger Federer who have accepted the WADA norms.It is time BCCI and these whimsical cricketers are put in their place. I do hope ICC takes a tough stand and bans the Indian Cricket Team from participating in the fothcoming Champions Trophy.If BCCI thinks ICC needs their money and revenues from TV rights, they can go jump in the lake. We are happy watching The Ashes and other world events for which we pay Cable Operators.

  • Aditya on August 4, 2009, 3:39 GMT

    I do not understand Why do people make so much fuss about BCCI using its money power.If it has the power then let it flaunt it. previously it has saved our cricketers in the same way when some of the match referees were biased in their verdicts.

    More over it has just reported the objection of its players as it is the intermediary between ICC and the players.

    It has also shown an alternative to resolving the conflict by saying that the players will be available for testing in 24 hours at one of WADA approved labs. It has certainly not specified any pre conditions for testing. So whats wrong in its stance?

    Some of the players are facing high risk from certain groups and it is reasonable on their part to avoid specifying their where abouts as long as they will be available for testing within 24 hours whenver WADA feels it should test a player.

    As the effect of drugs wont dissapear within a day it would not jeopardise the results of the tests

  • Nathan on August 4, 2009, 1:16 GMT

    So the BCCI thinks different rules and special treatment should apply to the indian team. What's new?! This is their attitude on every issue!

  • No featured comments at the moment.