While the BCCI claimed that it had made the application in March and waiting for the clearance letter, a sports ministry official said it is yet to get it. @AFP

South Africa’s A and women team’s upcoming tours to India in late August and September respectively have hit a roadblock as the BCCI is yet to get the mandatory clearance letter from the sports ministry required for visiting sides.

Normally, whenever a country tours India, the BCCI intimates the sports ministry about the itinerary and gets a routine clearance which helps the visiting sides to carry out their visa processes smoothly. The clearance letter normally comes between 30 and 45 days.

While the BCCI claimed that it had made the application in March and waiting for the clearance letter, a sports ministry official said it is yet to get it.

“The application for the clearance was moved to the sports ministry back in March. There has never been such a delay on their part. The A series and women’s series start late August and early September,” a BCCI official privy to the developments told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

“The clearance letter from the ministry is sent to the Indian embassy in South Africa and it helps in the visa process. This delay is turning out to be a logistical nightmare. We don’t know what’s the reason for this delay,” the official added.

However, when contacted, a source in the ministry said that they are “unaware of any communication from the BCCI”.

“Rather than going to the media, the BCCI officials should have come to the ministry if they had an issue,” a sports ministry official said.

“One thing should be clear. The BCCI has to approach the ministry for any pending issue and it’s never the other way round,” the official stated.

A section in the Cricket Board feels that the bigger implication is the case of ministry wanting the country’s richest sporting body to completely come under the ambit of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

On March 18, the BCCI decided to work independently with the NADA for six months on a trial basis without being deemed as a National Sports Federation (NSF).

“This delay for a routine clearance could well mean that the ministry wants to go all out to bring BCCI under its umbrella as a NSF. Otherwise, a four-month delay is unheard of even if we took into consideration that there were general elections,” said the BCCI official.

When the same question was posed to the ministry official, he replied: “All NSFs are under one government anti-doping agency and that is NADA. BCCI cannot sign a separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NADA without being fully compliant. In fact, when BCCI CEO Rahul Johri had come for a meeting earlier, the ministry brass had clearly told him so.”