CHENNAI: Of late, International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM) has been in focus, after the IPL was shifted to the UAE. There are discussions whether IDTM could be used for dope testing and its management. Until 2019, IDTM was involved with BCCI before the latter came under the National Anti-Doping Agency last August. Ashok Ahuja, former head of the department of sports medicine and sciences in Patiala, is also a lead dope control officer with IDTM. He speaks about its presence in India, its role and dope collection during Covid-19...
What is the role of IDTM and its function, especially in India?
IDTM is based in Sweden and dedicated to the field of anti-doping. They have an extensive network all over the world and it has been in existence for the last 28 years. Lately, they have gone into a collaboration with the United States of America sister concern that is DFSI (Drug Free Sports International), under which they depute dope control officials all over the world depending on the requests they receive from International Testing Agency and international federations. It is recognized by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Have you been associated with BCCI or IPL?
I am aware of a debate (whether we will be involved in anti-doping activities) ever since the BCCI and the IPL Governing Council decided to stage IPL in UAE. It is only last year that BCCI came under NADA and the latter has carried out dope tests in domestic competitions. IPL is a professional tournament where international players take part. Earlier, when IPL was shifted to UAE or South Africa, IDTM was involved and officials were sent from India and abroad to carry out anti-doping activities. We can’t say what can be the scenario this year because of Covid-19, keeping in view the bio-bubble. But if approached, IDTM would be happy to accept this responsibility and may depute some dope control officials from Europe or Asia. Logistics this time would be much higher as too many things need to be taken care of. IDTM also conducts education and awareness programmes all over the world. Last year it was held in Kansas city, Addis Ababa, Frankfurt, etc.
Test Distribution Plan (TDP) is decided by IDTM in consultation with the federation, as a number of tests shall increase costs. Approximately, 120-130 tests would be required in a full edition of IPL. In cricket usually urine tests and out-of-competition tests are done. The testing laboratory will be decided by IDTM in consultation with the agency keeping in mind the cost as results shall be required within 72 hours because matches are held every week at least.
What about IDTM in India?
It has been working in India for 15 years. I have been working with them since 2009. When BCCI decided it shall carry out anti-doping tests in domestic competitions and in IPL, IDTM approached BCCI and started certifying Dope Control Officers (DCOs) in India in 2010. Eventually every year in IPL until last year. Once they had DCOs lined up in India, they started giving them various 'missions' whenever they received requests from international federations to carry out dope testing (in-competition and out-of-competition). For field games like hockey or cricket, we normally have two players from each team who would be randomly tested. Four trained chaperones are nominated. Confidentiality must be maintained and there shouldn't be any conflict of interest between the officials and the federation. About six-seven persons are deputed and paid by IDTM. Lead DCO and DCOs have to sign contracts every year. They have to pass examinations every year.
How is sample collection different during Covid-19?
In Covid times, anti-doping activity has nearly come to a halt. For Covid-19, IDTM instituted another specific programme for recertification and that was known as Covid-19 examination for DCOs under which instructions were given on how to carry out out-of-competition and in-competition testing. Complying with WHO guidelines and in collaboration with WADA, they decided to take care of social distancing and etiquettes with respect to hygiene. Health of the athlete is of paramount importance.
IDTM has also started digitisation. Everything will be on the DCO's iPad and no paperwork. All details can be accessed and only signatures of the athletes are taken. In it they are asked if they have to come in contact with anybody who tested positive or if the family has suffered and so on. He/she has to immediately send the questionnaire to their federation when the test is completed during the Covid-19 times.