Rijiju says NDTL has taken corrective steps, urges WADA chief to lift suspension

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday urged the World Anti-Doping Agency to lift the suspension imposed on the National Dope Testing Labaratory, saying that it has taken “various corrective measures” prescribed by the global body.

Addressing a webinar on “anti doping, nutritional and therapeutic requirement in sports”, Rijiju requested WADA chief Witold Banka, who was also present in the virtual conference, to allow NDTL, suspended till January next year, to resume dope analysis as soon as possible.

“NDTL has taken various corrective measures prescribed by the WADA and we hope to resume dope analysis under the WADA guidelines,” Rijiju said.

“I am eagerly looking forward to you and your team’s visit to India as and when the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves,” he said, addressing the WADA chief.

The sports minister also requested Banka to include Indians in various committees and boards of the WADA.

“I request you to consider due representation of Indians in the committees and boards of the WADA to enable our scientists share our sports science, forensic and anti-doping expertise.

“India stands firmly for fair and clean sports and integrity in sports. We are ready to offer contribution to WADA, NADOs (National Anti-Doping Organisations) and RADOs (Regional Anti-Doping Organisations) in strengthening anti-doping activities.”

In July, the WADA had extended the suspension of NDTL by six months citing non-conformation to international standards. The world anti-doping watchdog first suspended NDTL’s accreditation in August last year for a period of six months.

The laboratory’s non-conformities pertain to the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) identified during a WADA site visit, including its isotope ratio mass spectrometry — the analytical technique of choice for confirmation of prohibited substances.

The suspension prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.

Currently, urine samples collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency are being sent primarily to the WADA-accredited lab in Doha.

Speaking before Rijiju, the WADA chief did not mention anything related to India or the NDTL’s suspension.

He mainly spoke about the status of dope sample collection worldwide during these difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and governance reforms.

“COVID-19 has impacted global anti-doping activities in a big way. But at the same time, a lot has been achieved by WADA, the NADOs, including India’s NADA and our other partners,” Banka, a former sports minister of Poland, said.

“Dope testing has seen steady increase globally since April. By October, 21000 samples collected worldwide which is 80 per cent of a year ago. Of these samples, 85 per cent are out-of-competition.”

He urged the national anti-doping agencies, including the NADA, to get ready for the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards, which will come into force from January 1, 2021.

Banka also said that the WADA has been in the process of governance reforms which will seek to increase representation of athletes and national anti-doping organisations.