ICL: Indian Cricket League

Drug abuse wakes up cricketing world yet again


The use of performance enhancing drugs by Pakistani pace bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif has come as a rude wake-up call to all cricketing nations and shown once again prevalence of drug abuse by players to overcome their deficiencies.

Senior officials in the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), watchdog body of the International Cricket Council (ICC), said cricketers were generally not subjected to doping tests and drug use had therefore become fairly common.

“Only four of ICC’s full members - Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa - have long-standing doping policies. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also recently introduced its own policy,” an ACSU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed.

It was only during World Cup in 2003 that anti-doping tests were first conducted by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDFS) on 100 players randomly selected from all countries in course of 43-day tournament. All of them returned negative results.

“Much more needs to be done by other cricketing boards. Cricket bodies around the world must be forced to submit players to stern drug testing,” the official said. Given that demands of game have become exacting ñ with flexibility, strength and endurance absolute prerequisites - cricketers have left nothing to chance in their search for that extra edge.

It is not surprising then that a whole range of drugs, some available over the counter, promising anything from muscular strength to enhanced alertness, delaying of fatigue and aggressiveness in mentally trying situations are on offer.

Androgenic anabolic steroids, amphetamines and stimulants are most sought after, and all are banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While fast bowlers resort to use of steroids for power and strength, batsmen go for amphetamines to induce extreme alertness.

Before Monday’s test on Pakistani cricketers, there have been only two recorded instances where action has been initiated against players. Australia’s leading wicket-taker Shane Warne was suspended from cricket for a year in February 2003 after he tested positive for a banned diuretic, ruling him out of the World Cup then.

Then, it was use of nandrolone that led to Western Australian bowler Duncan Spencer’s 19-month ban from domestic and international cricket in April 2001. He was being treated for back injury and tested positive for drug after a random test following Western Australia’s domestic limited-over series final against New South Wales in Sydney.

One reason why bodies have not shown interest in enforcing a drug-free regime is they consider cricket a “low-risk” sport for drugs use. But, considering that international matches are played almost throughout the year, dope testing may now become compulsory.

Recently, the ICC board endorsed adoption of the ICC Anti-Doping Policy for all the major ICC events. It complies with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code and its adoption at this year’s ICC Annual Conference is expected to formalise world cricketing body’s commitment to drugs free sport.

There have been persistent rumours around the world that cricketers take performance-enhancing drugs to give them extra zip. Unless other cricketing nations subject their players to mandatory tests, another scandal simmers.

Source:The News

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