The National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) has been instructed by World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) to stop all testing procedures with immediate effect and all the samples need to be safely moved to an accredited lab outside India.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended the accreditation of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) for six months in what is a massive blow to dope testing in the country with less than a year left for the Tokyo Olympics.
The suspension restricts the National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA’s) responsibilities to sample collection (blood and urine). It will have to get the collected samples tested by a WADA accredited laboratory outside India during the suspension period of NDTL.
“This suspension has been imposed due to non-conformities with the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) as identified during a WADA site visit,” WADA stated in a media release on its website. WADA also stated that it's Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) initiated disciplinary proceedings with regards to status of WADA accredited laboratories.
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The NDTL has been instructed to stop all testing procedures with immediate effect and all the samples need to be safely moved to an accredited lab. “The suspension, which took effect on 20 August 2019, prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples,” the release said.
“During the period of suspension, samples that have not yet been analyzed by the NDTL; samples currently undergoing a confirmation procedure; and any samples for which an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) has been reported, must be securely transported to another WADA-accredited laboratory. This is in order to ensure continued high-quality sample analysis, which also helps preserve athletes' confidence in this process and the wider anti-doping system.”
WADA has instructed NDTL to address all the non-conformities that LabEG identified during their site visit. “If the laboratory satisfies the LabEG in meeting these requirements, it may apply for reinstatement prior to the expiry of the six-month suspension period. Should the laboratory not address the non-conformities by the end of the six-month suspension period, WADA may extend the suspension of the laboratory's accreditation for up to an additional six months," it said.
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In conversation with PTI, sports lawyer Parth Goswami outlined the various problems that could crop up because of the suspension.
“NADA can carry out tests but will have to take the samples to another WADA accredited lab outside India may be in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Qatar or China," Goswami, a frequent critic of NDTL's efficiency said.
Recently the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was forced to come under the NADA umbrella after a decade long resistance crumbled under pressure. Their collection agency prior to coming into the NADA fold, International Dope Tests and Management (IDTM) also used to submit their samples to NDTL for testing.
“This is a tricky situation now for Ministry of Youth Affairs (MYAS) and NADA. It should ideally go to a lab in Asia. It will be cost effective,” said Goswami, "NADA will have to bear the cost. This will be a big burden considering the number of tests NADA conducts.” In an Olympic year, NADA expects to carry out close to 5000 tests and the suspension will burden the MYAS financially.
The suspension came into effect from August 20 but NDTL can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne in the next 21 days.
With inputs from PTI.