In charge of dope control at the IPL for the very first time, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) might have to outsource the task of sample collection given the high cost of handling the exercise when the event is held in the UAE.
The next best option for NADA will be using the services of UAE’s National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) or contact Sweden’s International Dope Test and Management (IDTM) which has done sample collection and testing for the last 12 seasons of the IPL.
The BCCI came under NADA’s ambit from the third quarter of 2019, making this year the first time that the agency will handle sample collection during the IPL, to be held from September 19 to November 8.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the BCCI to shift the tournament to the UAE, provided it gets the final approval from the Home Ministry.
“It is expected that the approved schedule will be out next week and once we send it to NADA, they can take a call. It’s completely their call as they will have to bear the cost of sample collection and transportation," a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
When PTI approached NADA DG Navin Agarwal on the issue, he didn’t divulge much apart from “we will let you know once we decide on the issue".
Till the 2019 IPL, BCCI bore the cost of sample collection and testing with the World Anti-Doping Agency-approved IDTM in charge.
There are a few options that NADA has according to those who are well abreast with the workings of the agency.
Outsourcing sample collection to UAE NADO
This is the most cost-effective measure where NADO will collect the sample and transport it to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Doha. NADA has been sending collected samples to this lab ever since the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) was suspended by WADA.
“This is the most convenient option in terms of checking the cost and sample transportation. NADA foots the bill which will be much lower," a source privy to the developments said.
In any case, the Dope Control Officers (DCOs) employed by NADA are not organisation’s staff and are hired on a contractual basis.
NADA sends DCOs to UAE
Another option is that NADA sends at least 3 to 4 DCOs to the UAE at its own cost for sample collection. It is expected that these DCOs will stay at the bio-secure facility created by the BCCI, which will be different from the ones created by the franchises for their players. The tab has to be picked by NADA as cost will run into lakhs.
With the agency already short of target-testing during an Olympic year due to the pandemic-forced lockdown and working on a specific budget, spending a huge amount on testing players at the IPL may not be a wise idea, according to experts.
“When Indian athletes train in Europe or the USA, does NADA send DCOs for sample collection in those countries?" asked one of them.