CHENNAI: Just a month after it emerged that India international Prithvi Shaw and two others tested positive for banned substance, the BCCI’s anti-doping 24x7 hotline has witnessed a near 400 per cent rise in calls. Over the last 20 days, the helpline, which is operated by BCCI’s anti-doping manager Dr Abhijit Salvi, has been receiving an average of 80-100 queries daily.
Days after Shaw’s case was made public, Salvi had told this daily that he used to get around 20-25 calls per day, but as he began his annual workshop on anti-doping protocol, there has been a huge change with regards to creating awareness.
“Earlier, there weren’t many queries, but once the news of Shaw made the headlines, more and more cricketers are calling. They are not willing to risk their careers by being casual anymore and even for the simplest of things, they call us, which is very encouraging,” Salvi told this newspaper on Monday after a seminar at MA Chidambaram Stadium involving men and women cricketers from Tamil Nadu. Also in the attendance was the Kerala men’s team, which is currently in Chennai as part of their pre-season preparations.
While the BCCI has been conducting seminars every season over the last nine years to educate players on anti-doping, this year listening to Salvi one thing stands very clear. Time and again he makes it a point to inform players and members of the support staff not to be casual in approach and always check with the BCCI before taking any medicine, even if it is a case of fever or headache.
“Most of the cases with positive test results happened because of casual approach, like in the case of Shaw and Yusuf Pathan, who took cough syrups. There are cough syrups which do not contain any of the WADA prohibited substances and that is what we recommend to the cricketers and support staff,” he added.
Apart from players, the support staff, even the physiotherapists who travel with the teams have been asked to approach the BCCI before carrying any basic medicine once the season commences next month.
With the BCCI now coming under the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) umbrella, Salvi also spent time on explaining the details of sample collection protocols. The BCCI had apprehensions about NADA’s testing officials and their sample collection kits — something it had communicated to the sports ministry as well — it has also told the players to be more attentive while undergoing tests. Key among them is cricketers being advised to ensure that the sample collecting vessels and kits are properly sealed before they open it.
Other than prohibited substances, Salvi also spoke at length about consumption of nutritional supplements by cricketers and the risks involved. “The supplement industry is not regulated and there are many in the market which may contain banned substances. WADA does not approve any nutritional supplements and neither does BCCI,” Salvi said.