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Dope tests in cricket: A step in the right direction

IS Bindra announces dope tests for cricketers.

Cricket commentary


May 6, 2006: There are a lot of announcements by the present office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India that are sparking controversies one after another. Many of these announcements and pronouncements are in the nature of mud-slinging, aimed at putting the former bosses of Indian cricket on the mat, whether they deserve it or not.

But there was this announcement by I.S. Bindra that was wise and far-reaching. He said that there would be a dope test for Indian cricketers and since there were no accredited labs in the country, the samples would be sent abroad. This is a step in the right direction.

This is not the first time Indian cricketers are undergoing drug tests. In 2003, while they were in Auckland, their samples were taken and tested. This was because South Africa has a drug policy and the World Cup was being held there. Now that another World Cup is round the corner, it is important to ensure that no cricketer is taking performance enhancing

Dope test is yet to be made mandatory in cricket unlike, say, in athletics. But since it is the biggest sport in India, and the stakes are very high for the players, the board should put in place a system whereby the players are checked before every major series / tournament.

Sometime back, Outlook magazine ran a cover story alleging that several Indian cricketers may be using performance-enhancing drugs and carried an interview with former coach Anshuman Gaekwad who hinted at drug use. Of course, he denied whatever was attributed to him soon afterwards.

Fingers were especially pointed at Ajit Agarkar - and the writers wondered how the frail looking bowler seemed to develop stamina and muscles overnight. But his subsequent performances have been anything but ordinary and so one can assume that he hasnít been resorting to a dangerous habit. Nothing has been heard since then, either from the magazine or other sources, about players using drugs to boost performance. But since so much money and fame rides on success at the highest level of cricket, the board should do everything at its command to put in place a testing mechanism.

In fact, there is now decent money to be earned by playing domestic cricket matches and at the the junior level. So, there is an incentive for doping there too - and testing should be made mandatory. For such testing, the labs in the country can be utilized. 

See how weight-lifters have regularly been bringing a bad name to the country every now and then. If weight-lifters do it, there is no reason to assume that cricketers wonít do it. After all, the match-fixing controversy was a big eye-opener for everyone. The game can do without another controversy.

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