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Olympian Malav Shroff to be first Indian on WADA medical committee

Shroff's term will run until December 31, 2025

malav-shroff-bach-twitter Malav Shroff (left) with IOC president Thomas Bach | via Twitter

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) named the new members who will join its four standing committees on January 1, 2023. From India, Olympic sailor Dr Malav Shroff has been appointed to the health, medical and research committee. Shroff is currently president of the Asian Sailing Federation and board member of World Olympians Association.

In a tweet, Shroff confirmed that he is the first Indian to be appointed to this committee. His term will run until December 31, 2025. The 12-member committee is chaired by Lars Engebretsen from Norway. The other Asian members are Takao Akama (Japan) and Reema Alhosani (United Arab Emirates).

According to the WADA website: “Among many of the Committee’s activities are the monitoring of scientific developments in sport with the aim to safeguard doping-free sport practice, as well as the overseeing of the following expert groups: prohibited list, therapeutic use exemptions, laboratory accreditation, and gene doping.”

A graduate in medicine from Mumbai’s KEM Hospital, Shroff is also a Rhodes Scholar with a DPhil from the University of Oxford. He and teammate Sumeet Patel had represented India in the 49er Class skiff at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He worked with McKinsey & Co. in New York, before turning entrepreneur and founding multiple companies in the water-sports space.

In December 2008, when the Volvo Ocean Race came to India for the first time, Shroff was manager of the Kochi stopover. In 2010, his company, Ocean Blue Marinas, built India’s first international marina at Bolgatty Island, Kochi.

Shroff’s appointment comes at a time when India has been trying for a bigger say in WADA affairs. Earlier this month, the sports ministry’s efforts had come a cropper when Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur lost to Yongman Cho for a seat in WADA’s foundation board, and National Anti-Doping Agency director general Ritu Sain lost the bid for a seat on the National Anti-Doping Organisation Expert Advisory Group.

A 2019 report by WADA had placed India among the top three countries with doping violations. In August 2019, WADA had suspended the accreditation of India's National Dope Testing Laboratory for an initial six months citing non-compliance. The suspension was later extended, and accreditation was reinstated only in December 2021.

Sources said that the WADA clearance came as a result of Thakur tightening compliance and pushing initiatives like the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), “which monitors selected biological variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping, rather than attempting to detect the doping substance or method itself”. Thakur recently said that he had also roped in the National Forensic Science University (to ensure compliance) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to test nutrition supplements.

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