New Delhi: The Indian cricket board has rejected the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) “whereabouts” rule, backing its players’ refusal to sign up to the directive due to security and privacy issues.
“The clause with regards to whereabouts is unreasonable,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar told a news conference after an urgent meeting convened in Mumbai on Sunday to discuss the issue.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) became a WADA signatory in 2006 and its board last year unanimously approved out-of-competition tests on cricketers in accordance with amendments made by WADA to the code.
Privacy issues: BCCI president Shashank Manohar. Santosh Hirlekar / PTI
However, Indian players missed the 1 August deadline to register, a stance that could prevent future participation in ICC events such as the Champions Trophy being staged in South Africa from 22 September-5 October.
“We don’t have a problem with dope testing (but) we have a problem with the system of testing,” Manohar added. “And the system has to be reasonable and acceptable to the person who is being tested.”
Indian Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra rebuked the cricketers while the domestic media began debating whether the influential BCCI was again trying to flex its muscles.
“There is absolutely no security concern,” Bindra said. “This is a lack of knowledge because the sport is not globalized as such.”
Cricket is seen as low-risk as far as doping is concerned, but realizes it needs to comply with WADA rules if it is to eventually make it to the Olympic-fold. Players from all other major cricket nations have signed up and an ICC lawyer met Indian cricket officials before the meeting to persuade their players to comply.
“The ICC and the BCCI are committed to a practical solution to the issue,” ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd told reporters in Mumbai. “The next step is for this matter to be considered further by the ICC Board to find a way forward.”
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh attended the meeting to give their views.
Manohar said there were three objections to the clause that stipulated players inform doping authorities where they would be for one hour every day over a set period of time.
He said security was the first issue as some players, such as Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni, needed security cover due to militant threats and their whereabouts could not be divulged. “Secondly, the privacy of the individual cannot be impeded. And thirdly...the Constitution of India gives a person some guarantees, for every citizen regarding his privacy.”
WADA regulations state that three missed disclosures of whereabouts in an 18-month period could result in a two-year ban from international cricket. Manohar blamed the situation on the issue not being discussed when it came up at the ICC meeting.
“All the members agree we have to be WADA-compliant,” he said. “However, the system of testing never came up before the ICC.”