Sports, or life for that matter, can take nasty turns. Prithvi Shaw’s arrival as the new flag-bearer of Indian cricket was eagerly anticipated. But now he sees his world turn upside down. The BCCI is clearly not competent enough when it comes to handling the important matter of controlling doping. The length of the ban handed to Shaw could easily have been longer and the batsman is lucky that he has got a curtailed eight-month sentence during which he played and made money from the IPL.
In Olympic sports, the penalty is usually two years for first-time offenders. The incident shows the richest cricket board and Shaw in equally bad light. Doping is not a new headache for the game of bat and ball but the BCCI seems reluctant to wake up to this reality. The number of failed dope tests is rising in India and in every case, the guilty gets away with what is effectively a token punishment.
The establishment almost on every occasion buys the offender’s argument that the substance was consumed inadvertently. While this is possible, that every dope offender in Indian cricket is an innocent victim is an unlikely coincidence. The punitive system needs a reboot. Else, it will end up creating wrong examples instead of handing out exemplary punishment.
Shaw was part of at least three anti-doping seminars and if he still does what he said he did, it puts a question mark over his basic intelligence. Since life and sports sometimes give a second chance, the youngster can still rebuild his career. He is not 20 yet; there is ample time for him to make up for what he has done and become an example for better reasons.
The stigma will perhaps remain, but it should not deny him a shot at redemption. He has to thank his stars though, for he wouldn’t have got this chance so soon had the BCCI followed international anti-doping protocol. And that’s why the board’s road to redemption is tougher than Shaw’s. With credibility lost on the governance front, it now risks being branded a body that encourages dope cheats. The lesson is for Shaw as well as the BCCI.