The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) extended the suspension of India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) for six more months owing to its failure to address non-conformities to international standards..
The Delhi based NDTL was earlier suspended in August after a WADA site visit. The world body forbade the lab from conducting anti-doping activities that included all analysis of urine and blood samples. The suspension was due to the shortcomings in the isotope ratio mass spectrometry analytical method of the laboratory.
Ever since the suspension, urine samples collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) are being sent primarily to a WADA accredited lab in Doha.
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After a second review of the lab — conducted in February — WADA did not find sufficient corrective measures to warrant revoking the suspension.
“In February 2020, when the six-month suspension period elapsed ... some outstanding non-conformities had not been addressed successfully,” WADA said in a statement adding that the Laboratory Expert Group of WADA “recommended the initiation of further disciplinary proceedings against the laboratory based on the outstanding non-conformities.”
“These disciplinary proceedings were carried out by an independent Disciplinary Committee…The disciplinary process is now complete and the second six-month suspension began on 17 July 2020,” the statement further added.
There is a distinct possibility of suspension being extended for another six months given the way in which the current suspension has been handled and in light of the existing proviso, which could bar NDTL from conducting any test before the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.
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As per Article 13.7 of the WADA Code, NDTL can appeal the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days of receipt of notice. WADA’s statement also gave leeway to the lab to apply for reinstatement if it fulfilled all criteria, within the suspension period.
The fear, having seen the way the lab has dealt with the first suspension, is that this second one could be extended to a further six months. That means NDTL won’t be able to do any testing before the Tokyo Olympics in July next year and will be reliant on foreign labs for testing, pushing up their own expenses.
Lawyer Parth Goswami, who works on doping related cases, told PTI, “It is a huge setback for the sports ministry and NDTL. Somebody must take responsibility for this. For the last 11 months, NADA is operating without an accredited lab and now this has been extended to another six months.”
“Sending of samples for analysis to Qatar lab involves cost and also delays the result management process. NDTL/sports ministry did not challenge the suspension of WADA before CAS last August. It will be interesting to see if NDTL protests this time,” Goswami added.