Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo
An ICC lawyer will meet BCCI officials in Mumbai on Sunday to address concerns expressed by Indian players on the new anti-doping code and to remind the Indian board that it sees no further reason to delay its implementation, Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, which was put in place by the ICC from January, requires players in the testing pool to inform the governing body through an online form about their whereabouts in advance. Lorgat revealed that an "overwhelming majority" of players in the pool from all countries have done so during the trial period, within the ICC's July 31 deadline, except India.
Indian players in the ICC's testing pool have raised various concerns about these 'whereabouts' forms and one of them told Cricinfo that it would be impossible to provide accurate information in advance, given their "fluctuating and hectic" professional and personal schedules. They are also worried about disclosing what they believe is confidential information and have raised queries about the security aspect. Similar "practicality issues" have already been voiced by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) , which also believes that such norms infringe on players' privacy.
Lorgat said he understood these concerns but added that the anti-doping measures were "absolutely necessary, quite like the security checks that are done at all airports these days" to ensure that cricket remains a clean sport. He also said that the ICC was looking for the "most pragmatic solution" and that if changes needed to be made to the system, it would revert to WADA by the end of this year.
"During the trial period, the overwhelming majority of players from all countries, except India, submitted whereabouts information," Lorgat told Cricinfo. "I understand and appreciate that there will be some concerns and reservations from all players and I am sure they feel that those concerns are genuine. However, the ICC has spent the past few months addressing all of those concerns, and, having taken great care to do so, we see no further reason to delay the full implementation of the requirements specified by the WADA Code. WADA's whereabouts system was developed after months of consultation and by adopting the same, we hope to ensure that our sport remains fair and clean. We will seek to remind the BCCI of this point when we meet with it on Sunday."
Lorgat admitted that revealing details of whereabouts in advance is "not something everyone would want to do" but added that it was necessary to maintain an effective out-of-competition testing programme and prevent abuse of the system. He also said that the ICC and BCCI, which has called for a meeting of its working committee on Sunday to discuss the issue, were in agreement that the game needs to remain "clean and honest".
"I understand that submitting details of your whereabouts in advance is not something everyone would want to do and I understand the concerns of players and their associations who may consider such a move an infringement of their private space," Lorgat said. "But it is absolutely necessary, quite like the security checks that are done at all airports these days, if we are to manage an effective out-of-competition testing programme in support of our wider aim, which is to prevent abuse of the system. We are confident that the overwhelming majority of cricketers worldwide are clean but we have to take into account the tiny majority who may be incentivised to cheat their fellow participants. We need to ensure that those players who play by the rules are not penalised for doing so."
The ICC will be represented by Iain Higgins, its company lawyer, at Sunday's meeting, which Lorgat hoped would clear any remaining concerns of Indian players.
"If we think that there are things that need to change in the system, we will provide feedback to WADA in the course of our wider review of the IRTP (International Registered Testing Pool) at the end of the year," he said. "There are a number of ways of ensuring compliance with the requirements. For instance, the players need not necessarily submit all of the information themselves. The national board can appoint an administrative official who can help to manage the process. All that the ICC is striving for is the most pragmatic solution."