Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has restored the accreditation of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL), which was suspended in 2019 because of its failure to comply with global standards. (More Sports News)
The NDTL is based in the national capital and can resume testing with immediate effect.
"National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) regains the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accreditation," Thakur posted on his official Twitter page.
"Restoration of accreditation is a boost to India's efforts to achieve the highest global standards of excellence in sport. This is the result of untiring efforts by GOI (Government of India)," he added.
India is currently third in the WADA's global list of dope violators led by Russia.
"Last week in Parliament, we introduced 'The National Anti-Doping Bill 2021', which is another step in India's quest to become a sporting powerhouse," Thakur said referring to the legislation which give the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA)powers to conduct raids to nab dope offenders.
The suspension of the NDTL had prohibited it from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analysis of urine and blood samples.
"NDTL has made rapid strides, and now its facilities are fully geared to be at par with the peer-WADA accredited labs across the globe," read a statement from the sports ministry.
"In its continuous efforts to excel, NDTL has been collaborating with the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) Guwahati and the CSIR-IIIM Jammu for research in Anti-Doping Science.
"NDTL has also been collaborating with other WADA accredited laboratories for strengthening its research activities and anti-doping efforts," it added.
The WADA first suspended NDTL in August 2019 for a period of six months and extended the de-recognition period after its inspections showed that non-conformities still existed.
The laboratory's non-conformities pertained to the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) identified during a WADA site visit, including the isotope ratio mass spectrometry — the analytical technique of choice for confirmation of prohibited substances.
During the suspension period, urine samples collected by NADA were being sent primarily to the WADA-accredited lab in Doha.
The process had made the anti-doping programme very expensive for the country because of the significant cost involved in sending samples abroad.
The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed in slowing down the anti-doping activities in India with NADA admitting to have collected a lesser volume of samples.
After outstanding non-conformities were not addressed to WADA's satisfaction, its Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) recommended the initiation of further disciplinary proceedings against NDTL in January this year.
The disciplinary committee that was mandated to make a recommendation to the WADA chair then asked for an extension in suspension.
Because of the suspension, NDTL could not carry out any testing before Tokyo Olympics in this year.
"Sending of samples for analysis to Qatar lab involves cost and also delays the result management process," lawyer Parth Goswami, who regularly handles doping related cases, had said in an interview to PTI earlier this year.
The ministry sad it is keen to establish and recognise more Dope Testing Laboratories in the country.
"Such laboratories will strengthen the capability for testing a greater number of samples, considering the sizable population and growing number of sportspersons in the country.
"These will also facilitate India to host mega sports events in the country."