This is the financial burden of the suspension of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) on the country and its athletes. The cost of testing of ‘A’ sample at the NDTL – not including the dope control officers’ (DCOs) sample collection cost – was just $120. Suffice to say, the ban on NDTL has largely derailed the anti-doping movement in the country, resulting in collection of fewer samples given the massive cost involved in transporting and getting them tested at a foreign laboratory.
Indian sports administrators, tasked with fighting the doping menace, have been facing other problems and Thursday brought home a fresh challenge – World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) suspended the National Doping Control Centre (NDCC) in Bangkok for six months for failing to conform to international standards. This is the same reason for which the NDTL was given a six-month ban – starting August 20 this year – by Wada. The suspension will be lifted on February 20, 2020.
Bangkok lab’s suspension has thus added to Nada’s misery. Following NDTL’s ban, Nada was sending maximum samples to Bangkok and Wada-accredited lab in Doha (Qatar). Now the Nada is faced with several questions: Where will they get the samples of Indian athletes tested given that Bangkok was the cheapest option? What will happen to the samples already sent to Bangkok? Nada has already paid the cost of testing of these samples to the Bangkok lab.
With no clarity around, there’s every possibility that their testing and substance identification will get delayed indefinitely. Sources have told TOI that some blood samples have been sent to Wada-accredited lab in Rome, but the amount of transportation and testing there is huge. “Sending the already collected urine samples to Doha lab is one option in the wake of Bangkok lab’s suspension, but that would result in massive increase in the cost,” a source informed.
Similarly, the chances of an early reprieve by getting the NDTL’s suspension lifted also look bleak. Recently, sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya travelled to Poland to attend the Wada Congress in Katowice and Nada director general, Navin Agarwal, went to Paris for the seventh UNESCO Conference of Parties.
The two separately and individually met the Wada’s incoming president, Witold Banka, and outgoing Wada DG, Olivier Niggli during these trips. While the Wada bosses appreciated India’s efforts in getting itself conformed to the Wada’s laboratory testing procedures, they both rejected the country’s request to lift the suspension at the earliest.
It was informed that a Wada team will visit the NDTL in January next year for inspection and, if found the lab in order, the ban will be lifted on February 20.
If the fault line exists, the suspension will further be extended.
It’s pertinent to mention here that the sample collection by Nada has hit an all-time low since the suspension. During the month of July 2019, 528 dope tests were carried out by the Nada. In September, it fell drastically to 174 dope tests and, last month, the sample collection stood at just 150. It meant that the Nada is giving several national tournaments and out-of-competition testing a miss.