Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of D.N. Patel, CJ and Prateek Jalan, J. addressed the grievance of international athletes who challenged Article 7.3.1 (f) of NADA Anti-Doping Rules and their suspension.

Petitioner has challenged Article 7.3.1 (f) of the NADA Rules, 2015 (National Anti Doping Rules) as ultra vires of the World Anti Doping Code (WADA), 2015 and Article 14, Article 21 and Article 265 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

Article 7.3.1(f) of NADA Rules, 2015:

Notification After Review Regarding Adverse Analytical Findings

the  Athlete’s right to request copies of the A and B Sample laboratory documentation package which includes information as required by the International Standard for Laboratories.  Upon request by the  Athlete, the laboratory  documentation  package  may   be   provided  on payment  of  the applicable fee/charges which shall have to be paid by the concerned Athlete

Further, the petitioner has challenged that he was wrongfully suspended on the basis of a wrongfully decided ADR, 2015 violation by a notice dated 05-03-2019 by respondent 1.

Manifest Arbitrariness

Petitioner stated that Article 7.3.1 (f) of the ADR suffers from “Manifest Arbitrariness” as athletes such as the Petitioner are denied access to the LDP as they are unable to pay the fees for procuring the same.

For the stated contention, the petitioner relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Shayra Bano v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 1.

The suspension of the petitioner deprived him of competing in any tournament for a period of 1 year which resulted in the violation of his fundamental rights.

Article 7.3.1 (f) of the ADR, 2015 required the Petitioner to pay a fee for procuring the LDP which forms the basis of the charge of doping levied against him. By charging a fee for procuring the LDP, the impugned provision has in effect charged the accused of securing access to justice and impinges on his right to secure a fair trial.

As per Article 9.3.4 and Article 9.3.5 of theInternational Standard for Testing and Investigations, 2017(ISTI, 2017), the Doping Control Officer is obligated to send all the relevant documentation and samples to the Sample Collection Authority “as soon as practicable” after the completion of the sample collection session.

Lastly, Article of the International Standard for Laboratories, 2016 (ISL, 2016) requires the requisite laboratory to report the Sample results of an athlete within 10 working days of the sample. However, as a matter of record, the A sample test was conducted after a period of 4 months.

Financial Burden |Violation of Right to a fair trial

Respondents having imposed a restriction on the Petitioner from participating in activities by making an allegation of doping, were duty-bound to provide a reasonable and efficacious means by which he can defend himself against the said allegation, but instead foisted upon him an exorbitant and extortionate financial burden.

Infringement of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India

Petitioner contended that even though eventually, the suspension was withdrawn, yet the suspension prevented the petitioner from participating in the sport anywhere in the world from 05-03-2019 to 06-03-2020, resulting in the infringement of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Petitioner was unable to participate in any athletics discus throwing tournament for 1 year due to the respondent’s lapses in procedure and standards.

In view of the above, the petitioner challenged the constitutionality of Rule 7.3.1(f) of the ADR, 2015.

Court issued notice to the respondent and the matter has been listed for hearing on 12-10-2020.[Dharam Raj Yadav v. National Anti-Doping Agency, WP(C) No. 7397 of 2020, decided on 05-10-2020]

Counsel for petitioners: Advocate Shivam Singh with Jaideep Khanna and Saurabh Mishra.

Counsel for NDA: Advocate Shreya Sinha, ASG Chetan Sharma with CGSC Rajesh Gogna; Advocates Akshya, Karan Chibber, Vedansh Anand for Union of India.

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