The 2010 Commonwealth Games may have ended on October 14th, but the controversy surrounding the organising of the games is far from over. In Parliament, the Opposition has called for a Joint-Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to be formed to investigate suspected financial irregularities in the organising of the Games. In a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports M.S. Gill commented that “All irregularities will be examined and the guilty will not be spared”. In July 2010, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) found irregularities in 14 Games related construction projects. It has been reported that officials from the CVC now believe total misappropriation of Games Funds could be between Rs 5000 crore and Rs 8000 crore . So what is being done about it? Currently, six different government organisations are conducting independent inquiries into financial irregularities, corruption, and mismanagement of the Games: the High Level (Shunglu) Commission, CVC, CAG, CBI, Income Tax Department, and Enforcement Directorate (ED). With so many government organisations involved, it can be difficult to decipher the big picture. Here is a breakdown of what each organisation is doing: High Level Commission (Shunglu Commission): The Commission was appointed by the Prime Minister on October 15th. It is chaired by V.K. Shunglu, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who has been given the status equivalent to a Supreme Court Judge. The Commission has a broad mandate to investigate all matters regarding the Games, specifically:
A report from the Commission detailing its findings is expected by mid January. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC): The CVC first found financial irregularities in 14 Games projects in July 2010. Subsequently, it asked the CBI to register a corruption case against MCD officials in connection with a tender issued for a Games project. In total, the CVC has found irregularities in 38 games related projects, under the following departments and agencies:
The CVC has directed the above agencies to respond to queries regarding the irregularities and has directed the CBI to begin a Preliminary Inquiry into them . The CVC will report its findings to the Shunglu Commission. Income Tax Department: The I-T Department is investigating tenders and awards of contracts for Games related works, as well as tax evasion . It has conducted raids in offices of over 30 business firms and individuals . Enforcement Directorate (ED): The ED is proceeding against Organising Committee officials for violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for projects involving venue development and overlays contracts awarded by the Organising Committee. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): It has been reported that the CBI had received over 300 complaints of corruption in Games projects by August 2010. It is verifying these claims and investigating matters highlighted by the CVC. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG): In August 2009, the CAG published a report entitled Preparedness for the XIX Commonwealth Games highlighting the lack of preparedness for the Games and its escalating cost. The CAG is conducting a detailed audit of the Games that is expected to be published in March 2011. Given that CAG reports are tabled in Parliament, the March 2011 report will be critical to the Parliamentary debate on the Games. Two members of the Organising Committee, the Joint Director and the Deputy Director General, were arrested by the CBI this past Monday. However, Given that the report of the Shunglu Commssion is due in January 2011, the CAG audit will follow two months later, and the current Opposition demand for a JPC remains unresolved, it may be some time before significant details are made public.
 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/BJP-to-press-for-JPC-probe-into-spectrum-Adarsh-CWG-scams/articleshow/6934697.cms  http://www.thehindu.com/news/article890174.ece  ttp://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/CVC-finds-irregularities-in-several-CWG-projects/articleshow/6229429.cms  http://www.deccanherald.com/content/105830/cwg-fraud-may-touch-rs.html  http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/games-over-pm-orders-probe-into-pre-event-mess/411739/  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/CWG-probe-Shunglu-given-status-of-SC-judge/articleshow/6818404.cms  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=66561  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/CWG-construction-CVC-asks-CBI-to-register-corruption-case/articleshow/6237714.cms  http://www.hindustantimes.com/specials/sports/cwg-2010/22-more-CWG-works-under-CVC-scanner/CWG2010-TopStories/SP-Article10-614446.aspx  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Claiming-fraud---favour-in-Games-rentals--CVC-to-CBI--begin-probe/700998/ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/it-dept-collects-cwg-works-related-documents/698683/  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article837892.ece  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cbi-has-over-300-complaints-regarding-games-works/655692/  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/CAG-starts-Commonwealth-Games-audit-report-by-March-2011/articleshow/6252852.cms
The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 is listed for passage in Rajya Sabha today. It was passed by Lok Sabha last week. The Bill creates a regulatory framework for anti-doping rule violations in sports. It was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports, and some of their recommendations have been incorporated in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.
Doping is the consumption of certain prohibited substances by athletes to enhance performance. Across the world, doping is regulated and monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is an independent international agency established in 1999. WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise, and coordinate anti-doping regulations across all sports and countries. It does so by ensuring proper implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and its standards. In this blog post, we discuss the need of the framework proposed by the Bill, and give insights from the discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha.
Doping in India
Recently, two Indian athletes failed the doping test and are facing provisional suspension. In the past also, Indian athletes have been found in violation of anti-doping rules. In 2019, according to WADA, most of the doping rule violations were committed by athletes from Russia (19%), followed by Italy (18%), and India (17%). Most of the doping rule violations were committed in bodybuilding (22%), followed by athletics (18%), cycling (14%), and weightlifting (13%). In order to curb doping in sports, WADA requires all countries to have a framework regulating anti-doping activities managed by their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations.
Currently, doping in India is regulated by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which was established in 2009 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. One issue with the existing framework is that the anti-doping rules are not backed by a legislation and are getting challenged in courts. Further, NADA is imposing sanctions on athletes without a statutory backing. Taking into account such instances, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) had recommended that the Department of Sports bring in an anti-doping legislation. Other countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan have enacted legislations to regulate anti-doping activities.
Framework proposed by the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021
The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government. Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations. A National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel will be set up for determining consequences of anti-doping rule violations. This panel will consist of legal experts, medical practitioners, and retired athletes. Further, the Board will constitute an Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel. Athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules may be subject to: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv) other consequences as may be prescribed. Consequences for team sports will be specified by regulations.
Initially, the Bill did not have provisions for protected athletes but after the Standing Committee’s recommendation, provisions for such athletes have been included in the Bill. Protected persons will be specified by the central government. As per the WADA Code, a protected person is someone: (i) below the age of 16, or (ii) below the age of 18 and has not participated in any international competition in an open category, or (iii) lacks legal capacity as per their country’s legal framework
Issues and discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha
During the discussion on the Bill, members highlighted several issues. We discuss these below-
Independence of NADA
One of the issues highlighted was the independence of the Director General of NADA. WADA requires National Doping Organisations to be independent in their functioning as they may experience external pressure from their governments and national sports bodies which could compromise their decisions. First, under the Bill, the qualifications of the Director General are not specified and are left to be notified through Rules. Second, the central government may remove the Director General from the office on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity or “such other ground”. Leaving these provisions to the discretion of the central government may affect the independence of NADA.
Privacy of athletes
NADA will have the power to collect certain personal data of athletes such as: (a) sex or gender, (ii) medical history, and (iii) whereabout information of athletes (for out of competition testing and collection of samples). MPs expressed concerns about maintaining the privacy of athletes. The Union Sports Minister in his response, assured the House that all international privacy standards will be followed during collection and sharing of data. Data will be shared with only relevant authorities.
Under the Bill, NADA will collect and use personal data of athletes in accordance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information. It is one of the eight ‘mandatory’ standards of the World Anti-Doping Code. One of the amendments moved by the Union Sports Minister removed the provision relating to compliance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.
Establishing more testing laboratories across states
Currently India has one National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL). MPs raised the demand to establish testing laboratories across states to increase testing capacity. The Minister responded by saying that if required in the future, the government will establish more testing laboratories across states. Further, in order to increase testing capacity, private labs may also be set up. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) also emphasised the need to open more dope testing laboratories, preferably one in each state, to cater to the need of the country and become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of anti-doping science and education.
In August, 2019 a six-month suspension was imposed on NDTL for not complying with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by WADA. The suspension was extended for another six months in July, 2020 due to non-conformity with ISL. The second suspension was to remain in effect until the Laboratory complies with ISL. However, the suspension was extended for another six months in January, 2021 as COVID-19 impacted WADA’s ability to conduct an on-site assessment of the Laboratory. In December, 2021 WADA reinstated the accreditation of NDTL.
Several athletes in India are not aware about the anti-doping rules and the prohibited substances. Due to lack of awareness, they end up consuming prohibited substances through supplements. MPs highlighted the need to conduct more awareness campaigns around anti-doping. The Minister informed the House that in the past one year, NADA has conducted about 100 hybrid workshops relating to awareness on anti-doping. The Bill will enable NADA to conduct more awareness campaigns and research in anti-doping. Further, the central government is working with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to test dietary supplements consumed by athletes.
While examining the Bill, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) recommended several measures to improve and strengthen the antidoping ecosystem in the country. These measures include: (i) enforcing regulatory action towards labelling and use of ‘dope-free’ certified supplements, and (ii) mandating ‘dope-free’ certification by independent bodies for supplements consumed by athletes.