Asserting that it already has a "robust" drug-testing mechanism in place, the BCCI has told the Indian Sports Ministry that there was no need for the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to test cricketers. The BCCI made it clear that it is an autonomous organisation, not a national sports federation, and hence did not come under NADA's jurisdiction.
NADA is the nodal agency certified to carry out anti-doping measures under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code for all national sports federations in India. In May, the NADA director general and chief executive officer, Navin Agarwal, wrote to Vinod Rai, chairman of the Committee of Administrators supervising BCCI, about conducting in- and out-of-competition testing on all of India's domestic and international cricketers.
The BCCI, in its response, said it had been a signatory to the ICC anti-doping code since 2011, which in turn was based on the WADA code, and therefore additional scrutiny was not necessary.
"BCCI is an autonomous sports organisation affiliated to the International Cricket Council, which governs the game of cricket globally," Rahul Johri, BCCI's CEO, said. "Accordingly, BCCI is required to operate within the rules and regulations set by the ICC."
Johri said the BCCI followed a zero-tolerance policy towards doping and its anti-doping code "imposes clear prohibitions and controls" to keep Indian cricket "free from doping". He also said the BCCI already conducts tests under the "aegis" of the Sports Ministry, considering WADA mandates that dope tests need to be sent to the national dope-testing laboratory.
"For analysis and testing of samples, BCCI adheres to the WADA International Standard for Laboratories and the WADA International Standard for Testing and Investigations. Accordingly, the BCCI has engaged the services of the same expert sample collection agency that is also engaged by the ICC to provide sample collection services viz. International Doping Tests & Management (IDTM). IDTM sends the collected samples for testing to a WADA accredited laboratory viz. National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL), as mandated by WADA. Since the Chief Executive Officer of NDTL is the Secretary (Sports), Department of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, the dope testing for BCCI is conducted under aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports."
When the ICC signed the WADA code in 2006, the BCCI was one of the first boards to object strongly to the whereabouts clause, which allows out-of-competition testing to be done without prior notice. That meant an athlete needed to disclose his location so that officials could visit unannounced to collect samples. But a lot of India's players were concerned about their security, and consequently the ICC anti-doping code with regards to the whereabouts clause was amended with WADA's consent.
"It is clear that BCCI already has a robust dope-testing mechanism which is employed for both during competitions and out-of-competitions," Johri said. "It is also relevant to mention here that BCCI is not a National Sports Federation. Accordingly, NADA does not have jurisdiction to conduct dope testing of Indian cricketers in any domestic competition or international event organised by or under the aegis of BCCI."
Rahul Bhatnagar, the secretary of the Indian Sports Ministry, had written to the BCCI saying if the board did not accommodate NADA, it would become non-WADA compliant. Johri's response to him too was that the BCCI wasn't under NADA jurisdiction and was "only required to operate within the anti-doping rules and regulations set by the ICC".
Johri said the BCCI was the only sports body in India to have a 24x7 helpline and an anti-doping education programme undertaken by all cricketers - men and women - who are also given handbook that contains a list of banned substances. "It is a matter of great pride that the anti-doping statistics released by WADA till date, as reported by WADA accredited laboratories, reveal that from 2013, BCCI has consistently reported the highest number of sample testing in the world amongst all cricket boards."
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo