THE NATIONAL ANTI-DOPING ACT, 2022 received the assent of the President on 12th August 2022 and became effective from the same day. The act focuses on giving effect to the intentions of the International Convention against Doping in Sport. The act aims at establishing the National Anti-Doping Agency to regulate doping in sports.
High standards of ethics are imbibed in the idea of sports. To uphold the dignity, ethics, and higher standard of the sports, a need was felt in the year 1999 following the 1998 Tour de France doping scandal to establish an authority to look after doping in sports. Consequently in 1999, with the efforts of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) was established on 10 November 1999. WADA was established to promote “clean sport” internationally.
Due to the concern of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the International Convention against Doping in Sport was drafted in the year 2003; adopted on 19 October 2005, and came into force on 1 February 2007. The Anti-Doping Convention is now the second most ratified of all UNESCO treaties, with 191 States Parties, and India is one of the states.
In the year 2004, a document that provides for the rules and regulations within sports organisations and policies pertaining to anti-doping around the world came into effect– The World Anti-Doping Code.
Being a signatory to the International Convention against Doping in Sport and to give effect to the intention of WADC (World Anti-Doping Code), the Indian government established the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 on November 24, 2005, with a vision of dope free sports in India.
Though NADA was established to eradicate doping from sports, NADA did not possess a set standard of rules; regulations; or powers. Owing to the malformation, the agency could not operate at full throttle resulting in dissatisfied objectives of the agency.
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (2019 report): “India comes in the third position for violating doping rules after Russia and Italy. In 2019, over 152 cases of doping violations were reported in India. As per the NADA report, over 1,181 Indian athletes failed dope tests between 2009 and 2021”
Taking into consideration the increasing cases of doping in sports and to bolster the NADA, the parliament enacted THE NATIONAL ANTI-DOPING ACT, of 2022.
The remarkable feature of the act is that it not only applies to the athletes but also to the people associated with the athletes and sports.
As per section 2(d) of the Act “athlete” means any person who competes in any sport at the national level or international level or participates in any competition or event to which this Act applies;
Section 2(e) of the act defines “athlete support personnel” which means any coach, trainer, manager, agent, team staff, official, medical or paramedical personnel, or such other person working with or treating or assisting an athlete who is participating in, or preparing for, a competition or event at the national level or international level or to which this Act applies;
Anti-Doping Rule Violation
What constitutes a violation of the doping rules is discussed under section 4 of the act. As per this section, Anyone or more of the following circumstances or acts or conduct by an athlete or athlete support personnel or other persons shall constitute Anti-Doping Rule Violation for this Act, namely:—
(a) the presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample;
(b) use or attempted use of any prohibited substance or a prohibited method, unless such use is exempted by the Agency under section 5;
(c) refusing or failing without compelling justification, to submit sample collection after notification as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules or otherwise evading sample collection;
(d) whereabouts failure;
(e) tampering, or attempting to tamper, with any part of doping control;
(f) possession of prohibited substances or prohibited methods;
(g) trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or prohibited method;
(h) administration or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or prohibited method to any athlete;
(i) assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of complicity involving an Anti-Doping Rule Violation or any attempted Anti-Doping Rule Violation or violation of the prohibition against participation during ineligibility or provisional suspension;
(j) prohibited association with such athlete, athlete support personnel or other persons as may be specified by the Agency by regulations;
(k) discouraging or retaliating against reporting to authorities;
(l) such other circumstances, or engaging in such other acts or conduct, which amounts to Anti-Doping Rule Violation, as may be specified by the Agency by regulations.
Consequences of Anti-Doping Rule Violations
With the enforcement of the act, the violation of anti-doping rules gives rise to serious consequences which range from banning the athlete to forfeiture of medals and awards. Section 6 of the act expounds on the point: The consequences of Anti-Doping Rule Violations by an individual athlete or athlete support personnel may result in one or more of the following, namely:—
(a) disqualification of results with all consequences including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, in such manner as may be specified by the Agency by regulations;
(b) ineligibility to participate in any competition or event or other activity or funding, for such period and in such manner, as may be specified by the Agency by regulations;
(c) provisional suspension from participating in any competition or activity prior to the decision in appeal under section 23 in such manner as may be specified by the Agency by regulations;
(d) imposition of financial sanction including proportionate recovery of costs, in such manner as may be specified by the Agency by regulations;
(e) public disclosure and such other consequences as may be specified by the Agency by regulations.
NATIONAL BOARD FOR ANTI-DOPING IN SPORTS, established under section 7 of the act, shall consist of one Chairman and 2 other Members. The Chairperson and Members shall hold office for three years or till they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier. The primary function of the Board shall be to advise and make recommendations to the central government about anti-doping. The Board shall also be entrusted with the power to oversee the agency
National Anti-Doping Agency – NADA
As the act aims at establishing an anti-doping agency, section 14 of the act expounds NADA as
“The National Anti-Doping Agency, established as a society and functioning as such, prior to the coming into force of this Act, is hereby constituted a body corporate by the same name, and as the such body corporate, it shall have perpetual succession and a common seal with power, subject to the provisions of this Act, to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, and to contract, and shall, by that name, sue and be sued”
As per this section, the already subsisting NADA was bolstered and fortified by providing more powers and authority.
The head office is situated in NEW DELHI, the agency shall be headed by Director General and other officers and staff to conduct the business of the agency. Presently Ritu Sain is the DG of the Agency. The agency shall have the authority to constitute committees, if need be, to discharge its obligations.
As per sections 19 and 20 of the act, the agency shall have the power to conduct search and seizure following the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and to collect samples for testing of the athlete; where the agency has apprehension of doping.
The disciplinary panel shall hear matters referred by the agency for the anti-doping rule violation.
The National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel shall be constituted by the Board to determine the consequences of the violation of anti-doping rules. The panel shall consist of 15 members:
- One Chairperson (a legal expert having not less than ten years of standing as a legal practitioner);
- Four Vice-Chairpersons (who are legal experts having not less than seven years of standing as legal practitioners);
- Five members (who are registered medical practitioners having not less than five years of standing);
- Five members (who are sports administrators for not less than five years, or retired eminent athletes).
Any person aggrieved by the decision in this act may prefer an appeal to this panel. The panel itself shall regulate its procedure and powers.
As per section 12 of the act, the Board shall constitute a National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel.
A Chairperson (who is a retired Judge of a High Court), a Vice-Chairperson (who is a legal expert, having not less than ten years of standing as a legal practitioner) four Members (two being medical practitioners, having not less than ten years of standing and two being retired eminent athletes or sports administrators for not less than ten years) shall constitute the National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel.
Advantages of the Act
- The act not only focuses on the athletes but also considers athlete support personnel.
- The act not only covers doping during events but also during preparations for events.
- Considering the need of the athlete owing to the medical conditions, therapeutic use exemption is also provided to the athlete.
- The act has endeavoured to provide expeditious disposal of the appeals—within 3 months.
- One of the captivating features of this act is the annual report that has to be furnished by the Board to the central government.
Drawbacks of the Act
- Though the therapeutic use exemptions of drugs are provided to athletes, the act does not enunciate the circumstances under which the exemption will be granted.
- The act does not expound upon domestic athletes.
- There is a special mention of the term “protected person” in the act, yet the term is not defined in the act.
- The act missed the point of mandatory testing at all levels of the sport.
- The act lacks the aspect of spreading awareness among athletes.
- The act does not discuss Esports.
Enforcement of the act is a progressive step by the legislature toward upholding the integrity of sports and events. Recently, various Indian athletes have faced consequences of doping which had adversely affected their careers whilst the reputation of the country.
As a lot of emotions are involved in sports, the events need to be “pure” and “unbiased”. Performance-enhancing drugs create bias in sports which is essential to be eradicated.
The enforcement of this act will extremely impact the sports fraternity. It will create a sense of security and faith in the minds of athletes; it will add to the integrity of the sports; will provide checks on the athletes; promote “fair” play.
All in all, doping has become a serious challenge for the sports fraternity. Since the early 90s efforts have been made to eradicate the issue by introducing various treaties and codes at the global level. To give effect to the intention of these treaties and codes, India has done its part by introducing THE NATIONAL ANTI-DOPING ACT, 2022.
Apparently, with the passage of time, the scope for further refinement of the act will entail.