New Delhi: The sports ministry has decided to exempt cricketers from some rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) in a revised version of the National Sports Development Bill, released on Monday.
A total of 14 changes have been made to the earlier draft, but the ministry has stuck with the restrictions it wants to impose on the age and tenure of national sports federations and the Indian Olympic Association.
Changing the game: Sports minister Ajay Maken. Photo: Hindustan Times.
The ministry had come out with an earlier draft in August, but was forced to revise it after various cabinet ministers, some of whom are heads of sports bodies, objected to a number of proposals.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also opposed some provisions of the draft law. “In view of the BCCI’s objections, we have decided to exempt cricketers from some anti-doping norms. The ICC (International Cricket Council) does not follow some Wada norms, and in these cases, the rules of the international federation, in this case the ICC, will prevail over the Wada code,” sports minister Ajay Maken said.
A crucial exemption is under the “whereabouts” clause of Wada, which mandates cricketers to provide information about their availability for a few hours in a day for three months in advance. BCCI had objected strongly to this clause.
The new Bill retains the proposal that officebearers of sports bodies retire at the age of 70.
“Efforts have been made to streamline the Bill while retaining basic principles of transparency, good governance and de-control from government,” Maken said. “Serious consideration has been given to remove the perception that the ministry was seeking to directly interfere in sports. So, I am hopeful that the revised Bill will get Cabinet’s approval.” The proposed offices of a sports ombudsman and a National Sports Development Council have been removed in the revised version.
BCCI had also objected to the proposal to bring sports bodies under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which allows citizens to demand information about the workings of any ministry, department or government agency. In the revised Bill, all sports federations are still covered under RTI, but some exemptions have been provided to restrict the kind of information being made public.
The exemptions include queries pertaining to selection, appointment or exclusion of athletes, coach, trainer or physiotherapist and those on quality of performance while participating in athletic competitions, queries relating to whereabouts of an athlete and queries pertaining to information that is confidential under the National Anti-Doping Agency code.
“This has been done to ensure that our athletes are not in a disadvantageous position as compared to our competitors from other countries by revealing the health condition of our players. This issue was raised by many former and current athletes,” Maken said. BCCI declined to comment on the revised Bill. “We have not studied it yet,” Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s chief administrative officer said.
PTI contributed to this story.