The National Anti-Doping Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 17 2021. After being referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth, and Sports for recommendation on March 23 2022, the bill was finally passed in the lower house on July 22, 2022, and in the upper house on August 03, 2022.
Anti Doping bill was introduced in order to protect the interest of the athletes, by prohibiting the use of dopingsubstances in sports. “Doping” refers to the use of banned substances in competitive sports to enhance the performanceof the athlete.
India signed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation International Convention against doping in sports in 2005 and ratified it in November 2007.
Following the convention, the government of India established the National Doping Laboratory in 2008 and the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in 2009 to fulfil its commitment towards the said convention. NADA established under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 worked as an autonomous body to regulate doping activities insports in India.
THE PROBLEMS WITH NADA
Before the Anti Doping legislature, NADA worked as an autonomous agency to bolster anti- doping activities in sports. As it was not backed by legislation, the anti-doping rules in the existing framework frequently got challenged in thecourts. Further, NADA imposed sanctions on athletes without statutory backing. In 2020, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) India recorded 59 instances of anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs), which placed India in the second rank of ADRVs after Russia.
Other issues include insufficiency in national drug testing Labs in India. In September 2018 WADA listed several major objectives with National Drug Testing Labs (NDTL) including itssampling procedures, faulty standard procedures and insufficient management. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) proposed that the Department of Sports introduce anti-doping laws considering such cases.
The aim of the Anti-doping Bill is to provide the statutory framework for the functioning of the NADA by providing more powers in terms of conducting investigations, searches, and seizures, and ensuring the proper functioning of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL). The Agency will be headed by an officer who will be designated as the Director General appointed by the central government.
FUNCTIONING OF THE ANTI-DOPING BILL
Under the Anti-doping bill
- No athlete, athlete support personnel or other persons shall indulge in doping in sport.
- Every athlete, athlete support personnel or other persons shall ensure that there is no occurrence of any Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV)
- The Agency ie. NADA shall have the primary responsibility to implement the provisions of this Act and may direct the collection of samples, manage test results and conduct results management at the national level.
- All athletes while participating in sports competition at all levels must maintain the highest standards of integrity and ethics in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules and regulations.
- It is the responsibility of every athlete, athlete support personnel, and other individuals to understand what Anti-Doping Rule Violations are, the limitations on the use of prohibited drugs, and the prohibited methods that areincluded on the Prohibited List.
- To promote Anti Doping research by setting up Drug Testing Labs across the country.
- The Therapeutic Exemption Committee, Investigation Committee, Sample Collection and Testing Committee,Result Management Committee, Education Committee, and Sanction
Committee are just a few of the committees that the Agency may establish as needed to carry out its dutiesunder this Act in accordance with any regulations that may be necessary.
- The agency also has the autonomy to control doping processes by exercising rights such as entering any place at all reasonable time for the purpose of inspecting, examining and determining anti doping rule violations.
- If the athlete has to use substances which are prohibited under the bill due to medical reasons, the sportspersonmay make an application request to the Agency to grant therapeutic use exemption in respect of such prohibitedsubstances or prohibited methods.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY STANDING COMMITTEE
- The committee suggested that protective mechanisms should be available to protect the minor athletes and adistinction should be made in procedure imposed upon minors.
- Making the prohibition list accessible besides including it in regulations, a mechanism be developed like an Appor dynamic website to make the athletes more aware about the prohibited substances.
- A committee/mechanism/process be followed for selection and appointment of the chairperson, to ensure propervetting of the persons who are sought to be appointed.
- The Committee recommends that a dedicated institute to undertake research and awareness initiatives, develop educational content, run courses (Diploma/Degree) needs to be set up to propagate and promote the vision outlined in the Bill for anti-doping measures.
- The Committee also emphasises on the need for opening more Dope Testing Laboratories in the country, preferably one in each state , to cater to the needs of the country and to also become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of AntiDoping Science and Education.
- The Committee recommends that the Department conduct a research in collaboration with NADA to determine whether any commonly used ingredients in Indian dietary preferences include any WADA-prohibited chemicals. This will enable the Department to bring these issues to their attention and request appropriate exemptions.
- One of the major issues raised with the bill is the independence and autonomy of the Director General as in thebill the director general will be appointed by the central government. This goes against the world anti-doping associations (WADA) guideline of creating an autonomous body.
- “The Director General shall be appointed by the Central Government from amongst persons of integrity and outstanding ability possessing such qualifications and experience as may be prescribed”
According to the existing bill, the electing criteria or the qualification of the director general are notspecified.
- The Director General may be suspended by the central government at any time prior to the end of his term of office on the basis of “misbehaviour” or “incapacity” that has been demonstrated, or for any other reason, after being given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
If imposed and followed properly, the Anti-Doping Bill can significantly improve not only the performance of the athletes but it can also improve the conditions for the athletes. The bill would lend legal sanctity to NADA and NDTL’swhich could work in a more organised and mechanised way, with improvement in testing techniques in the country. Toadvise the government on anti-doping laws and compliance with international anti-doping agreements, the National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports will be established.
The Board will supervise NADA’s operations and provide its directives. For the purpose of deciding the repercussions of anti- doping rule infractions, the Board will establish a National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. A National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel will also be established by the Board to consider appeals. Hence, providing a framework for NADA to work in an effective manner.
Mohan,K.P.Doping: India is number two in WADA report on anti-doping violations; Russia tops again(2023,June 1).
Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi. The National Anti Doping Bill, 2021
Prakriti Kandwal is a research intern at IMPRI, who recently graduated from Hindu college in sociology. Her interest lies in public policy and gender studies.
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