A few months back, the West Indian cricketer Andre Russell was banned for one-year for not following the anti-doping norms, and from this year onwards – the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has planned to introduce strict measures to prevent drug abuse in Cricket starting from this year onwards. Yet, the cases of corruption and crime in cricket continue; be it drug abuses or match fixing.
Yasir Shah, Pakistan leg-spinner, was also suspended by the ICC (International Cricket Council) for failing a dope test a few months back. Suddenly, such cases and the issue of drug abuse in cricket and non-compliance of anti-doping rules have started hogging the limelight these days.
As per the new directive, all cricketers will undergo blood and urine tests ahead of all major cricket championship so that WADA could inspect all samples before the start of any such event. In the event of any positive sample, the cricketer will be barred from the entire tournament.
Interestingly, urine samples often fail to indicate the traces of steroids, or performance boosting drugs inside an athlete’s body, but blood samples usually don’t fail to detect the same. So, blood sample is proving to be a better indicator of drug abuse than urine. It will also reveal whether a cricketer has consumed or injected any foreign substance to enhance their performances or not.
WADA’s new dictum asks for half-yearly blood and urine tests to determine any discrepancies between the two samples. Even a slight variation between samples could invite further investigations from the competent authority.
The Use of Anabolic Steroid in Cricket
An ‘athlete biological passport’ needs to be maintained by all cricketers round the year. Famed cricketers like Kusal Perera and Andre Russell created headlines for wrong reasons for failing anti-doping tests. However, Kusal Perera’s ban was later revoked.
Intake of Anabolic steroid is seriously prohibited in Cricket by the ICC. According to the sports medicine experts, Anabolic steroid helps athlete get fiery power which improves a fast bowler’s performance.
Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif, and former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar were tested positive with anabolic steroid in 2006. They took nandrolene and were reprimanded by the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and other agencies in 2006.
Soon, they were banned for a couple of years from participating in any international cricket matches. Though cases of drug abuse are relatively lesser in cricket in comparison to other sports, yet such cases sprang up from time to time.
Where is Cricket Heading to?
Cricket is a WADA-compliant sport but the proper code of conduct is rarely followed. In the last few months, WADA is taking whereabouts clause very seriously. Top cricketers from top-eight test cricket playing nations are required to provide their whereabouts details of the previous 18-month to the board on stipulated deadlines without failing.
It’s not enough. In countries like India, with the richest administration body like BCCI, cricketers are only tested just before the start of a tournament. More needs to be done in this regard, because the authority usually stays oblivious to what substance these cricketers injected to inside their bodies in the off-season.
(By: Atish Home Chowdhury)
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