The common word in the justification of all three doping violators in cricket is ‘inadvertently’. The same word had been used by many dope cheats in other sports, but sanctions in most cases were severe. Interestingly, the very same word has been used by BCCI to reduce sanctions this time under “No Significant Fault or Negligence” rules.
Prithvi Shaw said an over-the-counter cough syrup caused his positive test in February. The other two also said they took the substances inadvertently — a diuretic (generally a masking agent) usually taken for altitude sickness, epilepsy or heart failure and the other a corticosteroid derivative used for pain and inflammation. It is understood cricket is not as physically demanding as athletics or weightlifting or swimming and cricketers don’t need to indulge in doping. But then, it is happening.
There are intriguing questions in the Shaw judgement. Why did BCCI not find it amusing that all three ingested banned substances ‘inadvertently’? We find it unbelievable when athletes in other sports say the same. World Anti-Doping Agency Code has no mercy and it is always the athlete who has to prove innocence. The organisation, BCCI, shouldn’t say that he is. Doesn’t this cast a shadow on BCCI’s anti-doping awareness programme? Since the number of cases are increasing, shouldn’t BCCI start testing more cricketers?
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It may be criminal to compare, but the discrepancy in the outcome of a hearing of a cricketer and an athlete is stark. Whereas in other sports a uniform WADA Code is followed, BCCI has its own guidelines. Take for example Shaw’s ban starting from a back-date: March 16, although his sample was collected on February 22. BCCI explains that since he has to serve at least half of the eight-month ban after he was sanctioned on July 16 after all procedures were completed, March 16 was chosen and not the sample collection date.
The delayed decision to ban him on July 16 was apparently because the WADA-accredited National Dope Testing Laboratory sent the report late (in first week of May), which is surprising as results need to be sent within 10 days of sample collection in domestic matches. BCCI could have started his sanction from the sample collection date and continued beyond November 15. Assuming Shaw and the others may or may not have known what they were taking, and BCCI gave them the benefit of doubt, settling for a back-date after imposing a sanction on a particular date to make them serve half the ban can be inferred as manipulation.
That’s why the sports ministry has been insisting that BCCI comes under NADA – an independent agency that takes care of result management. Recently in the Parliament, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said NADA has jurisdiction over all athletes and sports associations in India, but BCCI contested it saying it’s not a national sports federation.
However, Rijiju said, “NADA jurisdiction extends to all athletes and sports organisations in India. BCCI not being a recognised Dope Testing Agency under WADA Code its stand was not found acceptable. WADA was apprised of it and a fresh direction has been issued to BCCI to comply with NADA rules.” The above cases indicate the BCCI can protect dope cheats or else, why would they not come under the NADA? It needs to be seen what the ministry does.