New Delhi: IAS officer Siddharth Singh Longjam will take over as the National Anti-Doping Agency‘s director general, succeeding Navin Agarwal who listed the creation of Athletes Biological Passport (ABP) for around 60 elite Indian sportspersons as one of the highlights of his tenure.
Longjam is currently serving as joint secretary in the sports ministry and is also the CEO of the currently suspended National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL).
Agarwal, an IPS officer who took charge of NADA in 2016, will be back in Jammu & Kashmir Police.
Asked about his tenure in a role which isn’t exactly conventional policing, Agarwal said ABP has been a significant step in curbing the menace of doping.
The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) helps monitor select biological variables over time that can reveal the effects of doping, rather than attempting to detect the doping substance or the method itself.
“The ABP unit that has been of great help as a marker of potential doping cases. I think about 50 or 60 athletes are now under ABP,” Agarwal told PTI on his last day in office.
“All are elite athletes and ABP is used in those disciplines where doping has an impact on performance. The substance may be detected in the body only for a short period of time and disappear in the physical test in long durations. In such cases, it has been of help,” Agarwal said.
He is also satisfied that “improved methodology” during his tenure helped in detection of blood doping.
“It was more about analysing the risk in particular sport and particular individual sportsperson as well. It was about analysing who’s more prone and susceptible to doping
“That certainly did require an improved methodology and we were able to detect certain cases and such substances,” Agarwal said.
In 2018, BCCI came under the ambit of NADA and Agarwal admitted that it was something that was long overdue.
However, he won’t say that it was the biggest achievement of NADA under his leadership.
“Not my biggest thing but it was long overdue and it wasn’t happening, for whatever reasons. It did certainly require quite some effort to bring BCCI under the ambit of anti-doping.”
While COVID-19 wreaked havoc for the better part of 2020, it did mean that doping cases were at their all-time low as scared athletes were more concerned about boosting immunity than taking prohibitive substances.
“Yes, Coronavirus contributed, as athletes were more concerned about their health. They didn’t consume prohibited substances also because of immunity boosting. That’s also an important consideration for drug abuse,
“Doping in India has been at its lowest for a long time in 2020. In absolute numbers, it is the lowest.”
Agarwal was also happy that NADA’s Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) and Anti-Doping Appeals Panel (ADAP) did some speedy disposal of cases.
“Despite panel members’ inability to meet (physically) and come to office very frequently, for everyone’s the convenience, we introduced video hearings.
“…. and so athletes who were dope positive would get an opportunity to represent their cases via video conference, wherever they are located in India or abroad.”