ANTI-DOPING LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN INDIA

ABSTRACT 

This paper examines the anti-doping landscape in India, focusing on the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and its relationship with key stakeholders. We explore NADA’s connection to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for implementation and UNESCO for educational initiatives. The crucial role of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in establishing the anti-doping code and its influence on Indian regulations is analyzed. We delve into landmark legal cases that have shaped anti-doping jurisprudence in India, including WADA vs NADA and Narsingh Yadav, highlighting issues of procedural fairness and athlete rights. Additionally, the cases of Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF (hyperandrogenism), and Amar Muralidharan v. NADA (whistleblower protection) are explored to understand the complexities of gender testing and athlete support structures. Finally, the paper examines the role of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYAS) in upholding anti-doping integrity. 

KEYWORDS: 

Anti-Doping, NADA, WADA, Doping Jurisprudence, India.

INTRODUCTION 

Anti-doping laws and regulations in India are governed by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which is responsible for implementing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code. The Code provides a framework for regulating doping in sports across the world, and NADA’s responsibilities include enforcing anti-doping rules, conducting tests, and investigating potential violations.

In recent years, there have been several landmark judgments related to anti-doping in India. In the case of WADA v. NADA, the Delhi High Court upheld the validity of NADA’s anti-doping rules and procedures, while in the case of Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favour of the Indian sprinter, allowing her to compete in women’s events without undergoing gender verification tests.

Another significant case is that of Narsingh Yadav, the Indian wrestler who was banned for four years after testing positive for a banned substance. The case highlighted the need for stronger anti-doping regulations and enforcement in India.

The National Anti-Doping Bill, of 2021, proposes a framework for regulating anti-doping activities in India. The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body, with the power to collect and use personal data of athletes per international standards. The Bill also emphasizes the need to establish more testing laboratories across states, increase testing capacity, and raise awareness about anti-doping rules and prohibited substances.

There is also a growing debate on whether India should criminalize doping in sports. While some argue that criminalization would serve as a deterrent, others believe that it could lead to harsh consequences for athletes, particularly those from marginalized communities. A comparative study of the criminalization of doping in other countries could provide insights into the potential benefits and challenges of such a move in India.

This paper aims to examine the current landscape of anti-doping laws and regulations in India, exploring the roles of key institutions, landmark legal cases, proposed legislative reforms, and the potential impact of criminalizing doping. By delving into these aspects, this research seeks to contribute to the ongoing discourse on combating doping in Indian sports.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 

The methodology for this research on Anti-Doping Laws and Regulations in India is primarily qualitative and relies on secondary research methods. It involves a descriptive and critical analysis of existing literature, legal documents, and case studies related to anti-doping practices in India. The study aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of anti-doping regulations, identify challenges, and propose potential reforms to strengthen the anti-doping regime in the country.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE 

Literature on anti-doping laws in India highlights significant legislative developments and legal precedents. The Parliament’s passing of the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 (Times of India) and its listing for passage in Rajya Sabha (PRS India) signify a concerted effort to regulate doping. Legal cases like WADA v. Narsingh Yadav & NADA (CAS OG 16/025) and Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF (CAS 2014/A/3759) underscore the complexities of anti-doping adjudication. Meanwhile, scholarly articles discuss the quest for harmonization (Mohan, 2020) and the potential benefits and challenges of criminalizing doping in India (Rai, 2020; Singh, 2018).

METHOD

This paper employs mixed methods to analyze India’s anti-doping laws, focusing on effectiveness and implementation. It contributes to the discourse on clean sports, guiding policy decisions in India.

  1. DOPING IN INDIA

In India, doping in sports is a significant issue, with athletes across all levels, from school meets to national championships, engaging in amateur doping practices. The most common usage involves drugs such as anabolic steroids. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is responsible for regulating anti-doping activities in sports and implementing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation International Convention against doping in sports.

The National Anti-Doping Rules, 2021, set out by NADA, govern anti-doping in sports. These rules establish strict substantive and procedural compliance requirements to ensure due process and uphold the rights of all athletes. However, scholars have argued that case studies suggest that stakeholders have departed significantly from a grounding in these rules, leading to inconsistencies and scientific integrity issues in achieving the quest for harmonisation.

India has consistently ranked as one of the worst offenders in the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) reports published by WADA. In 2018, India had the fourth-highest number of ADRVs (107), following Russia (144), Italy (132), and France (114). This trend has continued over the past few years, with India consistently ranking in the top five for doping violations.

NADA has tested more than 40,000 athletes for ADRVs since 2009, and a total of 1206 athletes have committed anti-doping rule violations. The lack of effective anti-doping education and awareness among athletes and the general public, as well as the availability and accessibility of performance-enhancing drugs and methods, contribute to the pervasive syringe culture in stadium bathrooms.

To promote a clean sports culture, it is essential to encourage honesty and integrity in sports from a young age, foster a culture where doping is unacceptable, strengthen anti-doping measures, increase the presence of anti-doping officials in competitions, even in remote areas, implement more stringent and surprise testing, and conduct awareness campaigns to educate athletes, coaches, and parents about the dangers of doping.

NADA AND UNESCO

The National Anti-Doping Bill 2021 seeks to create a statutory framework for the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), providing it with more power and authority to regulate anti-doping activities in sports effectively. The Bill aims to give effect to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation International Convention against doping in sport and ensure compliance with such other obligations and commitments.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has played a significant role in promoting clean sports and anti-doping measures. In 2005, UNESCO adopted the International Convention against Doping in Sport, which is the first global legally binding instrument against doping in sports. The Convention aims to promote a level playing field for all athletes and protect the integrity of sport.

India is a party to the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, and the National Anti-Doping Bill 2021 seeks to give effect to the Convention’s provisions. The Bill establishes a statutory framework for NADA, providing it with more power and authority to regulate anti-doping activities in sports effectively.

Sports Authority of India (SAI) and NADA

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is the apex national sports body responsible for the development of sports in India. SAI has been working closely with NADA to promote clean sports and anti-doping measures. SAI has implemented various initiatives to educate athletes, coaches, and parents about the dangers of doping and the importance of clean sports.

SAI has also been conducting regular anti-doping education sessions for athletes, coaches, and support staff. These sessions cover various topics, including the World Anti-Doping Code, the National Anti-Doping Rules, and the dangers of doping. SAI has also been conducting surprise doping tests to ensure that athletes comply with the anti-doping rules.

SAI has also been promoting the use of sports science and technology to improve athletic performance. The use of sports science and technology can help athletes achieve their full potential without resorting to doping. SAI has established various sports science centres across the country to provide athletes with access to state-of-the-art sports science facilities.

  1. THE WADA CODE: THEIR ROLE IN ANTI-DOPING REGULATIONS IN INDIA

The establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 1999 marked a pivotal moment in the global effort to ensure fair and doping-free sports. WADA operates as an international independent agency with a primary mission to lead a collaborative worldwide movement against doping in sports. Its mandate encompasses a range of critical activities aimed at developing, harmonizing, and coordinating anti-doping rules and policies across all sports and nations.

At the core of WADA’s efforts lies the World Anti-Doping Code, a comprehensive document that serves as the foundation for harmonizing anti-doping policies worldwide. This code not only sets the standards for anti-doping measures within sports organizations but also facilitates cooperation among public authorities on a global scale. WADA continuously engages in scientific and social science research, education initiatives, intelligence gathering, and investigations to stay ahead in the fight against doping. Additionally, the agency focuses on enhancing anti-doping capacities globally and ensuring compliance with the World Anti-Doping Program.

In India, WADA plays a crucial role in overseeing the acceptance, implementation, and compliance of the World Anti-Doping Code. Its responsibilities extend to advocating preventative measures such as values-based education programs, coordinating anti-doping activities globally, and raising awareness about the detrimental effects of doping. WADA collaborates closely with government bodies, law enforcement agencies, and Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) to strengthen anti-doping efforts in the country. Notably, in India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, of 1985, serves as the legislative framework for combating narcotic drug and psychotropic substance abuse.

Governance and funding of WADA are based on an equal partnership between the Sport Movement and Governments worldwide. The agency operates under a robust governance structure, which includes a 38-member Foundation Board, a 14-member Executive Committee, Standing Committees, Expert Groups, and a Nominations Committee. WADA’s vision of a doping-free sporting environment drives its mission to lead a collaborative worldwide movement against doping, guided by values such as integrity, openness, excellence, and collaboration.

In India, the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021, acknowledges the role of WADA in harmonizing and coordinating anti-doping regulations across all sports and nations. The bill proposes the establishment of the National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports, tasked with determining the consequences of anti-doping rule violations through its Disciplinary Panel and Appeal Panel. However, concerns have been raised regarding the lack of clarity in specifying grounds for the removal of panel members, potentially affecting their independent functioning.

The anti-doping process in India is overseen by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), established as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, of 1860. NADA’s responsibilities include implementing anti-doping rules following the World Anti-Doping Code, regulating doping control programs, conducting dope tests, and imposing penalties for violations. Notably, India currently lacks a dedicated anti-doping law, unlike other regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the National Medical Commission of India, which have clear guidelines for member qualifications and grounds for removal.

WADA’s efforts to combat doping are evidenced by its reporting of doping rule violations, with significant contributions from athletes of various nationalities and disciplines. Notably, statistics reveal that Russian, Italian, and Indian athletes account for a considerable portion of reported violations, with bodybuilding, athletics, cycling, and weightlifting being the most affected sports. To effectively combat doping, all countries must regulate anti-doping activities through their National Anti-Doping Organizations, aligning with WADA guidelines and establishing a robust statutory framework for anti-doping activities. 

  1. LANDMARK JUDICIAL DECISIONS ON ANTI-DOPING
  2. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) v. Narsingh Yadav & National Anti-Doping Agency of India (NADA)

The case of WADA v. Narsingh Yadav & NADA is a significant one in the field of anti-doping laws in India. The case involved Narsingh Yadav, a wrestler from India, who tested positive for a banned substance before the 2016 Rio Olympics. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) filed an application with the CAS Ad Hoc Division against the decision of the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) of the National Anti-Doping Agency of India (NADA) to exonerate Yadav based on his claim of sabotage.

The CAS Ad Hoc Division, in its award of 18 August 2016, held that Yadav had failed to produce any evidence regarding the sabotage theory and imposed a four-year ban on him. The CAS panel noted that WADA had the right to appeal the ADDP decision without exhausting any internal remedies, as per Article 13.1.3 of the Anti-Doping Rules of NADA 2015. The panel also noted that NADA could have appealed before WADA did, but did not do so.

The case is significant as it highlights the importance of the anti-doping rules and the role of WADA in ensuring their enforcement. It also highlights the need for athletes to provide evidence to support their claims of innocence and the consequences of failing to do so. The case also highlights the jurisdiction of the CAS in hearing appeals against decisions of the ADDP, even in cases where the athlete is a National Level Athlete, as per the rules of the NADA.

  1. Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF

Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter, challenged the IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations, which stated that female athletes who naturally produce levels of testosterone higher than 10 nmol/lit were not eligible to compete in the female category and need to take androgen-suppressive drugs to resume competition. Chand appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) because the regulations unfairly discriminated against women who naturally produced higher levels of testosterone.

The CAS was not satisfied with the evidence provided by the IAAF and suspended the regulations on July 27, 2015, allowing Chand to compete in athletics events. The IAAF was given up to two years (later extended by two months) to submit additional evidence on the correlation between endogenous levels of testosterone and athletic performance. The regulations currently remain suspended until July 19, 2018.

The case highlighted the importance of fairness and non-discrimination in sports and the need for scientific evidence to support regulations that affect athletes’ eligibility to compete. The CAS decision was a significant victory for Chand and other athletes with hyperandrogenism, allowing them to compete without undergoing medical intervention.

  1. Amar Muralidharan v. National Anti-Doping Agency, National Dope Testing Laboratory, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports

Indian National Dope Testing Laboratory, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is a landmark decision in the field of anti-doping law in India. The case involved Amar Muralidharan, a national-level swimmer, who challenged the decision of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to impose a four-year ban on him for testing positive for a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

The Sole Arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the decision of NADA, finding that Muralidharan had failed to establish that the prohibited substance entered his system involuntarily or unknowingly. However, the case is significant for its unique question of law about the jurisdiction of CAS. The Sole Arbitrator held that NADA had not objected to the CAS Jurisdiction as per Rule 39 of the CAS Code, and therefore, the Athlete could approach CAS against NADA’s decision.

This case is a good international precedent for any national-level athlete who wishes to challenge the decision of their respective national anti-doping agency before CAS. However, the precedent can be used by the National Level Athlete in his or her favour, only if the Doping Agency of their respective Country has waived their right to object to CAS Jurisdiction.

The case highlights the importance of the anti-doping framework in India and the role of CAS in resolving disputes related to anti-doping violations. It also emphasizes the need for national-level athletes to be aware of their rights and the procedures involved in challenging decisions of national anti-doping agencies before CAS.

  1. SHOULD DOPING BE CRIMINALISED IN INDIA?- COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

Criminalizing doping in India involves a comparative study of the criminalization of doping in other countries and the potential benefits and challenges of implementing such laws in India. Several countries like Australia, the UK, France, Germany, and China have advocated for the criminalization of doping to establish a strong deterrent against the use of prohibited substances in sports. Germany, for example, introduced a law to jail dope cheats, demonstrating a proactive approach to combat doping in sports.

The potential benefits of criminalizing doping in India include establishing a more stringent deterrent to prevent athletes from engaging in doping practices, protecting the integrity of sports, and ensuring fair competition. Criminalization can help in deterring athletes from using performance-enhancing substances by imposing severe penalties, including imprisonment, which could act as a significant deterrent.

However, there are challenges associated with criminalizing doping in India. One key challenge is ensuring that the law is not misused and that the sanctions are proportionate and fair. The law should be implemented in a way that does not infringe on athletes’ rights or lead to unjust punishments. Additionally, there is a need to address the complexities of proving intent and involvement in doping cases, especially when it comes to coaches, support staff, and athletes at different levels of competition.

SUGGESTIONS 

Improving anti-doping measures in India is imperative for fair play, athlete well-being, and the integrity of sports. Key steps include amending the NADA Act to align with global standards, conducting educational workshops to raise awareness, and implementing rigorous testing protocols. Supporting clean athletes through resources and legal aid while encouraging reporting is essential. Collaboration with international anti-doping agencies can enhance effectiveness, as can investing in research for advanced detection methods. Ensuring transparency and accountability in doping cases further strengthens the framework. These measures collectively bolster India’s stance against doping, fostering a culture of clean sports and upholding the principles of integrity and fair competition.

  1. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the anti-doping laws and regulations in India have undergone significant changes with the introduction of the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021, which has been passed into the National Anti-Doping Act, 2022. The Act aims to provide a statutory framework for regulating anti-doping activities in sports, ensuring fair and clean sports by adhering to the highest level of integrity in and out of competition. The Act also establishes the National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports to oversee the activities of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) and ensures the implementation of international standards, obligations, and commitments.

The criminalization of doping in sports is a topic of debate, with some arguing that it would serve as a deterrent to athletes and others questioning its feasibility. A comparative study of the criminalization of doping in other countries suggests that it has both benefits and challenges. While it may deter athletes from doping, it could also lead to increased pressure on athletes and may not necessarily address the root causes of doping.

The Indian sports ecosystem has faced challenges in implementing anti-doping regulations, with cases of procedural and substantive errors by domestic tribunals and access to justice challenges before the High Court. The recent suspension of the National Dope-Testing Laboratory (NDTL) has further highlighted the need for improvements in the anti-doping system.

In light of these challenges, India must continue to strengthen its anti-doping framework, focusing on education, awareness, and the establishment of more testing laboratories across the country. The criminalization of doping in sports remains a topic for further discussion and debate, with the potential benefits and challenges weighed against the broader goals of promoting fair play and clean sport.

  • Author Name: Aswati Sharma
  • College Name: D.Y. Patil School of Law