NEW DELHI: The Mukul Mudgal committee, set up by the sports ministry to come up with measures to tackle the menace of doping in the country, has recommended jail terms for those involved in supplying banned substances to athletes.
Any attempt to supply prohibited substances to athletes or having links to an ‘organised crime syndicate’ involved in doping could land the offender in prison with a term of up to four years or imposition of a hefty fine of Rs 10 lakh. Even athletes and coaches found to be part of the system can be jailed. Not just that, if the National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) feels that a syndicate is involved in trapping athletes, it can refer the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
These are some of the provisions of the proposed draft of the ‘National Anti-Doping Legislation-2018’, which the 15-member committee – headed by retired high court judge, Justice Mudgal – has submitted to the sports ministry for further deliberation. It’s been learnt that the bill could be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament this year.
The draft also has a provision which states that “any person who fails to comply with duty of this act shall be fined, which may extend to Rs 20,000 for the first offence and if the offence is repeated, it may extend to Rs two lakh for each offence”.
Justice Mudgal, talking to TOI, informed that the proposed legislation has been drafted with a view to “protect the athletes from the menace of doping”.
“There are two things. One is where athletes get involved accidently because the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) keeps changing the list of prohibited substances every six months on its website. Many athletes have been caught in this web. Then, there is a lack of knowledge about many substances which athletes take. So, the key point is education. Educating the athletes is very important. This legislation tries to grab persons involved in doping or are part of these syndicates,” he said.
According to the draft, “any person who indulges in supply of prohibited substance to an athlete on a regular basis for commercial purposes shall be guilty of the offence of ‘trafficking’ and shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to one year and shall also be liable for a fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh”.
The draft adds: “Any person who is part of an organised crime syndicate shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to four years and shall also be liable for a fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh”.
The draft has called for the formation of an ‘Ethics Commission’ which will have three members to deal with doping offences. Nada director general, Naveen Agarwal, who is the vice-chairman of the committee, said that it took six sittings over a period of six months to finalise the draft. The members studied the doping laws related to sports in 10-12 countries.
Several countries like Germany, Australia, Italy, France, Austria, Spain, Hungary and Denmark, among others, have stringent anti-doping laws with some of them having the provision to even send athletes to jail for doping offence. Then, there are countries which specifically deal with trafficking of substances banned under the Wada list.
“For the athletes, the punishment is already there in terms of sanctioning them for doping violations. But the other people in the sports ecosystem who are responsible for doping will be sanctioned under the draft legislation. Also, those who have made doping a business at the expense of athletes, will be jailed,” Agarwal told TOI.
THE WAY AHEAD
The sports ministry will examine the draft, seek comments from the public and send it to the law ministry’s legislative department for its suggestions. The draft bill will then be finalized to be presented before the Parliament.
All athletes and national sports federations (NSFs) will be covered in the draft. The ministry is yet to put up the draft on its website.
DOPE TAINT: India is ranked sixth among the dope cheat nations in the recent Wada report based on the anti-doping testing figures of 2017.