CHENNAI: It has not been the best of times for the National Anti-doping Laboratory. Their haphazard handling of the Narsingh Yadav saga ended up being a blemish on their reputation. Even shotputter Inderjeet Singh, after failing a dope test, pointed fingers at NADA’s integrity.
But the agency may finally be in for some good press thanks to their efforts to upgrade their standards. NADA chief Navin Agarwal told Express that the agency was collaborating with the Australian anti-doping agency (ASADA) in a bid to up their standards. “We had finalised the agreement with them a couple of months ago. We have held a lot of meetings in this regard already. The programme is being overseen by WADA,” he said.
Rumours had been floating that, following the hushed-up way in Narsingh was initially cleared and the ease with which WADA was able to get Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the verdict, NADA had been asked by the world body to clean up their act. Agarwal said he had not received any such communication. “I have received no such mail. The upgradation process is going on, but that started much before the Olympics. It has nothing to do with any of the recent events anyway.”
NADA and ASADA have drawn up a detailed project plan aimed at improving many areas of the former’s functioning including testing and results management structures, more timely appeals processes, and a review of the agency’s structure to confirm that the current structures enable autonomous operational decision making. NADA had come under fire prior to the Olympics after they took nearly a month to reveal Narsingh Yadav’s test results and took a further week to initiate the appeals process. The way in which Narsingh was cleared had also seen NADA subject to allegations that they had succumbed to political pressure. The current plan will leave NADA better equipped to deal with another Narsingh-type situation.
“We look forward to sharing our expertise and experience with India as they strive to improve their anti-doping capacity,” ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt was quoted as saying in a WADA press release.