The ICC is finally ready to implement its anti-doping code, which includes a "modified" whereabouts clause, following negotiations during a year-long stand-off with the BCCI, which had stood by its players' objections to the clause. Having addressed "a couple of concerns" that were raised by some of the members, the ICC board finally approved the WADA-compliant code at the annual conference in Singapore earlier this month. The ICC believes this regime to be consistent with principles of the WADA code.
Players who would be tested will fall under two main pools based on certain criteria: the International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) and the National Player Pool (NPP). Players who are known offenders or who may be of higher risk will be in the IRTP. Players in the NPP, which comprises 88 internationals (11 from each of the top-eight ODI teams according to the ICC rankings), will need to submit "cricket whereabouts information" rather than that of their personal whereabouts.
"The rules are final. The anti-doping code is in place," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, told Cricinfo in London. "Where we go next is to educate the players and Member Boards because they have the responsibility in terms of filing."
The ICC became a signatory to the WADA code in November 2006 in order to enhance cricket's credibility as a global sport and to satisfy mandatory requirements for participating in events like the Olympics. However, its members' adoption of the code hit a roadblock when the BCCI objected to the whereabouts clause.
The clause required the 11 players nominated to the international testing pool to reveal to an ICC-nominated officer before every quarter details of their whereabouts for an hour every day for three months to facilitate out-of-competition testing. Top Indian players, including Sachin Tendulkar, raised fears concerning their personal security and refused to sign the code, a move strongly supported by the BCCI. The Indian board then raised its objection to the clause, citing it went against the country's constitution.
During the last year, the whereabouts rules were revised but two more issues needed further clarification and the changes were eventually finalised in Singapore. "Some of the countries were concerned about local involvement by other agencies and did not want to duplicate things," Lorgat said. "The second issue was the exact definition of injured players."
The Professional Cricketers' Association has said it approves of the "sensible" new code. "The PCA supports the new proposals which we think are adequate and sensible and which suit the needs of cricket," chief executive Angus Porter told the Guardian.
The majority of the players will be in the NPP, where they would be tested exclusively when they are in a team environment - like when on tour, or at a national training camp. "Cricket whereabouts is something where the player can be tested at any given point when he is training, playing, travelling with the team," Lorgat said. "Instead of the player doing it individually, the team management will do the filing [of whereabouts information] for the player."
When asked if this code was a compromise by the ICC, Lorgat said it was a modification. "I don't believe it is a compromise. It is a solution to resolve the constitutional issue that India faced, and perhaps they did have genuine security concerns about their top players. It is a modification of the original clause to satisfy the concerns on one front but still consistent with the principles to do out-of-competition testing."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo