WADA suspends India's National Dope Testing Laboratory, Ministry says will appeal
New Delhi: The World Anti-Doping Agency has suspended the accreditation of India's National Dope Testing Laboratory for six months in a massive blow to the country's anti-doping programme, prompting a surprised Sports Ministry to brace up for an appeal.
The lab, which got WADA accreditation in 2008, is no longer authorised to carry out testing of the samples as the suspension is effective from August 20. The development is a huge setback for India with less than a year left for the Tokyo Olympics.
The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) can still collect samples (blood and urine) but will have to get them tested by a WADA-accredited laboratory outside India.
"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.
"The suspension prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples," it added.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said his ministry will appeal against the WADA decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
"There were some issues in the past. After taking over as sports minister, I have taken cognizance of those issues and a course correction has been initiated. It is disheartening that despite these efforts, WADA has taken this stance," Rijuji said in a statement.
"We will appeal against this ban (at the CAS in Lausanne) and the process of appeal is already underway," he added.
The WADA investigation found that the sample analysis methods of the NDTL were not upto the mark. The NDTL can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne in the next 21 days.
Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya said the move was surprising and could be a result of "business interests".
"We have addressed all concerns raised by a WADA team during its last inspection in September 2018. So, the suspension came as a surprise to us," Julaniya said. "There is a huge business interest involved in this decision because the cost of testing in our laboratory is much cheaper than other countries," he added.
The cost of testing is now expected to shoot up and it is feared that sample collection will come down drastically because of this, casting a shadow on India's anti-doping programme.
"NDTL is separate from NADA, we do not come into the picture when it comes to testing. We only collect
samples," NADA Director General Navin Agarwal said when contacted.