August 7, 2003

World anti-doping body condemns Warne ruling

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has strongly condemned the decision to allow Shane Warne to play in charity matches and train with the Australian team. Warne is currently serving a 12-month suspension for using a banned drug, but was allowed to appear in testimonial games after an arbitration ruling. The agency hit out against the ruling and has stepped up the pressure on the Australian government to ensure that Warne's 12-month ban is enforced to the full.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, David Howman, the agency's chief executive, said: "It is bizarre. A ban means not participating in any form. It is not a ban if he is training or playing - a ban means not participating in any form. I find this ruling particularly bizarre because it is out of character with Australia's strong anti-doping stance."

Dick Pound, WADA's president, added that he didn't understand what the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) was doing. "It is doing everything in its power to allow a cheater to play. It is absolutely anti-ethical and against the spirit of the game."

Howman also said he was perplexed by the fact that other players were supportive of a player guilty of testing positive for a banned drug. "You have had Ian Thorpe and other prominent Australian athletes who want a level playing field and want the cheats taken out of the game, but when there is an athlete who tests positive, like Shane Warne, I find it breathtaking that other players want him to play and want to play alongside of him." Howman pointed out that some sports, like athletics, make it illegal for sportsmen to compete alongside banned athletes.

WADA is expected to write to Australia's Federal Minister for Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, to have Australia's anti-doping rules applied in this case. Kemp is, in any case, on the WADA board. Currently, WADA's rules on anti-doping cannot be applied directly to cricketers as the ICC is not a signatory to the agreement.