The suspension of National Dope Testing Laboratory's accreditation by WADA will not only impact the cost and number of dope tests in the country but will also leave India's anti-doping programme dependent on facilities abroad for at least six months.
According to experts, India will also lose revenue from the testing of samples from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Other WADA-accredited laboratories in Asia are in Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Doha and Bangkok.
With a limited budget at its disposal, it will now be difficult for the National Anti-Doping Agency to increase the number of dope tests this year, with the Olympics just 11 months away.
The NADA claimed it conducted more than 4348 dope tests in 2018-19, including 466 blood samples. This number is likely to reduce unless the ministry or the respective National Sports Federations bear the extra cost for testing outside.
Sports Medicine expert P S M Chandran said the NDTL, which got WADA accreditation in 2008, has been one of the cheapest laboratories in the world for dope testing.
"The NDTL, on an average charges USD 200 (Rs 14,340), if you want the result in a 10-day window. It is costlier in other laboratories, the London laboratory will charge 250 to 300 pound (Rs 21,845 to Rs 26,243) on an average for a 10-day window of the result. Sometimes, you want the result in 48 hours, then it costs more," Chandran, who served as Sports Authority of India's Director of Sports Medicine for 25 years, told PTI.
"But there is room for negotiation and if the dope samples are more, there can be rebates or reduction in costs. India should be targeting laboratories nearer home like Bangkok which is probably slightly costlier than NDTL," he added.
But according to Chandran, the problem could be that laboratories outside the country may not accept large number of samples.
"For example, say we want to send our samples in Bangkok but that particular lab may not be able to take in a large number of samples from India because it will have to test its own and for other countries also. Then, you have to send to other countries, say in Europe which are costlier.
"So, you lose the freedom of testing athletes whenever necessary. You have to first find out where the samples can be sent," he added.
Chandran said NADA may go for target/select testing instead of bulk testing under the circumstances.
Asked if there could be delays in dope results coming out, he said, "It depends and it will not necessarily lead to delays because of suspension of accreditation of the NDTL. If you pay more, the results of dope tests done abroad will come on time. It is all about money.
"If a delay has to happen, it will happen. We have seen delays in dope cases in India earlier also," he added.
He also refused to speculate on the reason for suspension of NDTL's accreditation.
"NDTL has been up to the standards, that is why it was accredited by WADA for these many years. There must be reasons for the suspension of the accreditation. Now, it may have to do the necessary changes or improvements under the WADA.
"WADA will again find out after six months whether necessary changes or improvements are made. Let us hope for the best," he added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)