BCCI to meet tomorrow to sort out Anti-Doping Code issue

BCCI to meet tomorrow to sort out Anti-Doping Code issue

India's leading cricketers, including master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are reluctant to sign the much-debated 'Whereabouts Requirements' clause of the Code which, they claim, infringes on their privacy.

Top cricketers including Dhoni and Tendulkar have been informed about the emergency Working Committee meeting and told to attend it if they wish to do so, BCCI sources said.

"Apart from Dhoni and Tendulkar the invitations have also been sent to Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan. But we have come to know that Zaheer is out of the country and Tendulkar also may not be available as he is out of town. Anyway these players have sent their views to the Board on the subject," BCCI sources said.

The sources also said that ICC's lawyer Iain Higgins will be coming to Mumbai tonight and he wants to meet the players to explain the details of the Code and try to remove their apprehensions.

But Higgins will not be attending the Working Committee meeting, they said.

The ICC has asked all its affiliated members to get their players sign the World Anti-Doping Agency's Code but the BCCI is faced with the reluctance of 11 of its chosen cricketers, including two women, to comply it.

The cricketers are unhappy with the "Whereabouts" clause which makes it necessary for them to give details about their availability for one hour every day (between 6 am and 11 pm) for random out-of-competition testing by WADA officials.

WADA said these are powerful deterrents and means of detecting doping by athletes.

This specific rule is also part of the WADA's revised International Standard for Testing (IST) that came into effect along with the revised Anti-Doping Code on January 1 this year.

The revised IST was approved by WADA's Executive Committee, composed in equal parts of representatives from governments and sport, on May 10 last year.

"Whereabouts" are information provided by a limited number of top elite athletes about their location to the International Sports Federation (IF) or National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) that included them in their respective registered testing pool as part of these top athletes' anti-doping responsibilities.

The other nine Indian cricketers who are part of the country's testing pool are Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj.

The cricketers have been asked to fill their "Whereabouts update form" in which they are expected to give details about their residence, training and regular activity locations in advance.

But the Indian players feel such a clause not only infringes on their privacy, but also makes it difficult for them since they are not aware of their programmes two months in advance during the off-season.

The players have already expressed their concerns to BCCI about this clause, according to Board sources.

"We are seeing what can be done. The BCCI has also conveyed the reservations of the players on the 'Whereabouts' clause to the ICC," the sources said.

To make matters serious is the WADA rule that missing of three dope tests and/or failure to provide accurate whereabouts information within an 18-month period leads to the opening of a disciplinary proceeding by the Anti-Doping Organisation with jurisdiction over the athlete.

The sanctions range between one and two-year ban depending on the circumstances of the case.

The ICC, on its part, has sent its company lawyer Iain Higgins to discuss the contentious issue with the Indian cricketers ahead of the BCCI Working Committee meeting.

ICC's Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has said Higgins will make it clear to the BCCI that there is "no further reason to delay the full implementation of the requirements specified by the WADA Code."

This has further queered the pitch and a potential BCCI-ICC confrontation also looms large if the Cricket Board is unable to convince its players to sign the Code.

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