WADA suspended India's National Dope Testing Laboratory
File photo of athletes coming out of National Dope Testing Laboratory (in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: PTI

With less than a year to go, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) left for the Tokyo Olympics could be a massive blow to the anti-doping movement in the country, with the recognition of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) for six months. Is suspended for.

It is understood that the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) can continue with sample collection (blood and urine), but it will have to be tested by a separate WADA accredited laboratory outside India during the suspension period of NDTL.

Wada said in a media release on its website, “This suspension has been imposed due to non-conformance with the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) as identified during the Wada site visit.

Wada also said that this Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) had initiated a disciplinary action about the status of WADA accredited laboratories.

“In May 2019, disciplinary proceedings were initiated by WADA’s Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) and subsequently carried out by an independent Disciplinary Committee, which was mandated to make a recommendation to the Chair of the WADA Executive Committee regarding the status of the laboratory’s accreditation. This process is now complete,” WADA informed.

The NDTL has been instructed to stop all testing procedures with immediate effect, and all the samples need to be safely moved to an accredited lab.

“The suspension, which took effect on August 20, 2019, prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.

“During the period of suspension, samples that have not yet been analyzed by the NDTL; samples currently undergoing a validation procedure; and any representations for which an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) has been notified, must be securely transported to another WADA-accredited laboratory. This is to ensure continued high-quality sample report, which also helps preserve athletes’ confidence in this process and the wider anti-doping system,” it stated.

The suspension came into effect from August 20, but NDTL can appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne in the next 21 days.

“According to Article 13.7 of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA), the laboratory may appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days of receipt of the notice.”

The WADA has commanded NDTL to address all the non-conformities that LabEG identified during their site visit.

“If the laboratory satisfies the LabEG in satisfying these requirements, it may apply for reinstatement before the expiry of the six-month suspension time. Should the laboratory not address the non-conformities by the end of the six-month suspension period, WADA may extend the suspension of the laboratory’s accreditation for up to an additional six months,” it further stated with a note of caution.

Sports lawyer Parth Goswami, who specializes in anti-doping answered a few commonly asked questions that cropped up due to certain unforeseen circumstances.

“NADA can carry out tests but will have to take the samples to another WADA accredited lab outside India may be in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Qatar or China,” Mr. Goswami, who has been a critic of NDTL’s efficiency, told PTI.

It will nevertheless be a tricky situation for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, feels Mr. Goswami. Recently the ministry forced BCCI to come under NADA umbrella after a stubborn resistance for a decade.

Even for BCCI, this is a difficult situation as their first collection agency – International Dope Test and Management (IDTM) – is also used to submit samples to NDTL for testing as it is a WADA accredited laboratory in India is.

“This is now a difficult situation for MYAS and NADA. It should ideally go to a laboratory in Asia. It would be cost-effective,” said Mr. Goswami, as the budget should be kept in mind during the Olympic year when NADA is close Expected to perform 5000 tests.

“NADA will bear the cost. It will be a big burden considering the number of tests NADA conducts,” he said.

Mr. Goswami is interested to know whether NDTL Lausanne will accept the verdict in court or appeal. “NDTL can appeal this decision to CAS. Let’s see if they do it. Or they are willing to admit their mistake,” he said.

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