WADA Extends Suspension Of India's National Dope Testing Lab By 6 Months
The World Anti-Doping Agency extended the suspension of India's NDTL by six months citing non-conformation to international standards.
The NDTL was first suspended by WADA in August last year
WADA extended the suspension of their accreditation by another six months
WADA cited non-conformation to international standards as the reason
In a massive jolt to India's Olympic preparations, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has extended the suspension of the country's National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) by another six months citing non-conformation to international standards. The WADA first suspended NDTL in August last year for a period of six months. A fresh round of inspection by the world body, much to the embarrassment of country's sporting establishment, showed that non-conformities still existed. "The World Anti-Doping Agency has suspended the accreditation of the National Dope Testing Laboratory in New Delhi, India, for a second period of up to six months," WADA said in a statement.
The suspension prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
The laboratory's non-conformities pertain to the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) identified during a WADA site visit, including the laboratory's isotope ratio mass spectrometry -- the analytical technique of choice for confirmation of prohibited substances.
Sports minister Kiren Rijiju said that technical problems are being addressed as the first suspension notice was served before he took over the NDTL chairmanship.
"WADA served suspension notice before I took over as Chairman of National Dope Testing Laboratory. The rules of revoking it's accreditation after 6 months suspension is avoided by extending the suspension period because all technical problems are being addressed no," Rijiju tweeted.
Currently, urine samples collected by National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) are being sent primarily to the WADA-accredited lab in Doha.
The WADA conducted a second inspection of NDTL in February. But corrective measures weren't found to be good enough to revoke the suspension, which has been extended till January, 2021.
"In February 2020, when the six-month suspension period elapsed and some outstanding non-conformities had not been addressed successfully, WADA's Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) recommended the initiation of further disciplinary proceedings against the laboratory based on the outstanding non-conformities," the world body said.
The disciplinary committee that was mandated to make a recommendation to the WADA chair then gave its status report asking for an extension in suspension.
"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."
As per Article 13.7 of the WADA Code, the NDTL can appeal against this decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days of receipt of notice.
The release also stated: "During the period of suspension, if the laboratory satisfies the LabEG in meeting the requirements, it may apply for reinstatement prior to the expiry of the six-month suspension period."
However, there is a provision for another six-month suspension which could mean that NDTL won't be able to do any testing before Tokyo Olympics in July, 2021.
"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."
NADA DG Navin Agarwal, in a recent interview to PTI, had said that the body has "stopped collecting blood samples during COVID-19 forced lockdown as transportation becomes difficult."
"Till NDTL is functional, we will use other service providers for testing of our samples," Agarwal said on Wednesday.
Send samples to foreign laboratories involves a higher cost.
"It is a huge setback for the sports ministry and NDTL. Somebody must take responsibility for this. For last 11 months, NADA is operating without an accredited lab and now this has been extended to another six months," lawyer Parth Goswami, who handles doping related cases, told PTI.
"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," he said.