CHENNAI: While the BCCI finally decided to make public the news of Prithvi Shaw failing a dope test conducted in February, it has led to more questions. Soon after India’s exit from the World Cup, there were whispers that the opener had failed a test and won’t be considered for selection. When this newspaper reached out to the BCCI, officials maintained there was no such case and they were under no obligation to make it public even if there was one.
On Tuesday, the BCCI confirmed his suspension began in March and runs till November. In the time that the BCCI kept the news under wraps, Shaw played for Delhi Capitals in the IPL and took part in the T20 Mumbai League. This paper can also reveal he was at the National Cricket Academy this month as part of his rehabilitation process, clearly a violation of the BCCI code.
The BCCI said: “Under BCCI ADR (Anti-Doping Rules) Article 10.11.2 a cricketer may return to train with a team or use the facilities of a club or other member organisation of a signatory’s member organisation during the shorter of: (i) the last two months of the cricketer’s period of ineligibility; or (ii) the last one-quarter of the period of ineligibility imposed. Therefore, Mr Shaw may return to train with his state team and/or to use the facilities of any club or other member organisation of the BCCI after September 15.”
This raises questions why Shaw was allowed to use the facilities at the NCA in Bengaluru. Multiple sources have confirmed to this newspaper that the 19-year-old attended a rehabilitation programme at the NCA in the second week of July when a couple of India cricketers too were present. Also, the selectors had picked Shaw for India A’s tour of West Indies, before the BCCI withdrew him citing an injury. While the BCCI states it charged Shaw on July 16, why it took nearly five months also raises questions. Why did they not inform the selectors that he had tested positive way back in February?
Even though the BCCI has suspended him for eight months, the fact that he played in IPL and T20 ML can cause further trouble to Shaw. His case is similar to Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad, who after being suspended for four months, had to be out of action for another six weeks because he had continued to feature in domestic matches. The BCCI judgement in Shaw’s case admits that the ICC and World Anti-Doping Agency can appeal the decision. “As per BCCI ADR Article 13, ICC and WADA has a right to appeal this decision.”
The normal punishment for a first-time offence is two years and it is probable that the body will try to ensure that Shaw gets more than the backdated eight-month ban. “As this matter is ongoing, we are not in a position to comment,” a WADA official said. That WADA considers the matter ‘ongoing’ does not augur well for Shaw.
Also the BCCI states that Shaw consumed a cough syrup in Indore as recommended by a pharmacist over-the-counter. When he was summoned for a test, he complied without any objection. However, he did mention he had taken antibiotics. While Shaw doesn’t prove anywhere that he didn’t take it inadvertently, how did the BCCI come to this conclusion raises an even bigger question. Has the BCCI not educated players on doping? How did an international player go for an over-the-counter drug without understanding the side effects?