The wrong strategy

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The wrong strategy

BCCI says it is on the side of the players when it comes to dope tests. That is not correct

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a strange body, it claims to be a society for tax reasons, but still controls the national cricket team in a country that is cricket mad. Some of its administrators over the past three decades, notably Jagmohan Dalmiya have taken the sport to unchartered territory making it immensely successful and rich. But that success attracted political and business figures into cricket administration like a pack of hyenas. And even though the Supreme Court had to step in to clean up the mess, the latest decision by the BCCI is extremely strange if nothing else, as the cricket body rejected the demand that its players be brought under the auspices of the National Anti-Doping Authority (NADA) which itself comes under the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) claiming that it is doing a good enough job. The image of sports survive on trust of the viewing public, cricket in India has just about recovered from the loss of faith it suffered after the match-fixing scandal, although suspicions of match-fixing have not really been eliminated from the sport particularly in the short-form T20 leagues. Other sports have suffered a massive loss of faith thanks to doping, be it athletics, wrestling, boxing or even tennis where big names, and in women’s tennis Maria Sharapova is one of the biggest, have been caught out using substances that potentially improve performance. In other sports such as cycling, faith has eroded to the point that many people do not take the sport seriously anymore. Sometimes it takes an exceptional athlete such as Usain Bolt for the public to regain faith in a sport.

No-one is saying that Indian cricketers are indulging in doping, although during an early season of the Indian Premier League two players were caught using party drugs, which are also banned. In fact, the most successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps was photographed taking a hit of marijuana, which is anything but performance enhancing, but even his squeaky-clean image was hit. The Indian public is well-aware that doping is rampant in many smaller events and Indian boxing and wrestling have been particularly guilty. This is because of the assurance of jobs for doing well at national championships. The BCCI’s main complaint is the strict ‘whereabouts’ clause that it says will impede the lives of Indian cricketers. There is a iota of truth in that claim, but if champions like Roger Federer and Venus Williams who are massive global superstars can adhere to such norms, it is incredulous to believe that Dhoni, Kohli and gang cannot. Sporting superstars have to be above suspicion and the BCCI is wrong on this front. Doping is a problem afflicting sport and just saying ‘our players don’t do it’ is not enough.

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