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Indian dope testing lab misses out on Asian Games 2018 contract Jan 10, 2018 09:14 IST

by January 10, 2018 General

The National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in New Delhi has missed a golden opportunity to bag the 2018 Asian Games contract for analysis of more than 2000 samples, and in the process, enhance its status as one of the premier dope-testing labs in Asia.

The Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC) was keen on giving India the contract ahead of the other five World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited labs in Asia — Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Qatar and China. The contract could have earned NDTL a Rs.1.5 crore profit.

But the Indian lab, it is learnt, missed the chance as it only “tests urine samples, not blood samples”. Qatar, which had hosted the 2006 Asian Games, bagged the contract.

“Doha (Qatar) has been chosen in consideration of price, customs and excise process, and flight frequencies available to ship the samples,” INASGOC`s Doping Control and Health official, Lie Wiena Octoria, had said in November 2017, and it was widely reported in the Indonesian media.

Wiena had said that, “INASGOC initially considered laboratories in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, India and Doha. It was then shortlisted, and a laboratory in Doha was finally chosen. India had been a choice for sample tests for Asian Games 2018, but the laboratory there could only conduct urine tests, excluding the blood test.”

NDTL director, Sheila Jain told Hindustan Times that there is no project related to the 2018 Asian Games. When asked if INASGOC had approached NDTL, Jain said, “I am not authorised to speak on the subject. We can’t give any details on the lab and its activities. For more information, check the lab website.”

The lab website has information only on the number of tests, domestic and international, NDTL has conducted till date.

The cost of testing a sample is around $220, of which a WADA-accredited lab can make a profit of $100, a top Sports Authority of India (SAI) official told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity.

Rahul Bhatnagar, secretary (sports) and the ex-officio vice-chairman of NDTL did not respond to calls or SMSes.

The SAI official said that the project could have generated “revenue of around Rs1.5 crore during the 15-day long continental competition” from August 18 to September 2. “The contract could have also enhanced the profile of the lab,” he said.

M Jegathesan, chairman, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) medical panel, while keeping mum on the issue of contract said, “The Organising Committee (INASGOC) has the freedom to shortlist an accredited lab. The final approval is given by OCA. A whole lot of logistics and WADA guidelines are followed before a lab is shortlisted. The tests have to be conducted within a stipulated time and at a quick pace,” he told Hindustan Times from Melbourne.

All WADA-accredited labs have to follow standard testing procedures. The blood samples should be analysed within 72 hours. Any delay in results is a huge embarrassment.

NDTL, a relatively new lab — it was given WADA accreditation in 2008 while the lab Qatar got WADA nod before the 2006 Asian Games — had conducted tests during the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and Commonwealth Games, its first major multi-discipline event on the home soil.

The other high-profile event it had given sampling support to was the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. But the number of tests conducted was less than 500.

Doha has ramped up its lab given the high-profile events it will host in the next five years — including the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.