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July 22, 2012

Time to close the Rahul-Parnell case

Samir Chopra
Rahul Sharma celebrates the wicket of Sunil Narine, India v West Indies, 5th ODI, Chennai, December 11, 2011
Should a bunch of recreational drug users pass judgment on another possible recreational drug user?  © AFP
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Rahul Sharma and Wayne Parnell have joined the list of cricketers that will soon be caught up in the sporting world's hypocrisy and confusion when it comes to the D-word: drugs. If sentence will be passed on them, in all probability it will be done by those who are not averse to the occasional beer, wine, or whisky, and who in all certainty, start their days off with a liquid injection of caffeine. Some of them might, even in these enlightened times, puff on a cigarette or two. In short, a bunch of recreational drug users will pass judgment on a pair of recreational drug users.

Perhaps, from the sidelines, an equally hypocritical and sanctimonious crowd will ask for harsher punishment. Meanwhile, that same contingent, punishers and callers-for-heads alike, will cheer when cricketers spray champagne over each other after a win and talk about the 'big night' and 'sore heads' that lie ahead.

By all accounts, Rahul and Parnell did what a pair of young men might do in a big city once the working day is done (in their case, after their commitments to their IPL team were done and dusted). They went out to party. Perhaps they smoked a joint, perhaps they just took a drag on one as it made the rounds. Perhaps, they dropped a pill of Ecstasy, and even worse, danced to dubstep and techno, and would have stayed up all night, if the Mumbai police hadn't decided to crash the party.

From the back of the police wagon that carried them off to the thana that night, Rahul and Parnell might have glumly wondered why their buddies could drink beers in dressing rooms with opponents and be praised for doing so, while they would be forced to donate their bodily fluids as evidence of criminal wrongdoing. They would wonder why there exists a category of forbidden substances called 'in-competition prohibited substances' that includes marijuana, but not alcohol or tobacco.

As professional sportsmen Rahul and Parnell should know what works for them and what doesn't when it comes to ingesting substances that might adversely affect their on-field performances. Cannabis and Ecstasy are not performance-enhancing drugs in any sense; their effect on performance-diminishment remains to be scientifically ascertained. (Vikram Rathour confesses to being surprised that Rahul tested positive as he "doesn't even drink beer." Perhaps Rahul is smarter than Rathour imagines; perhaps he knows the occasional joint will do him far less damage than the gallons of beer that cricketers of yesteryear were said to have consumed.)

If Rahul and Parnell had smoked a joint in the dressing room, they would deserve censure. But under the present circumstances, when they are on their own time, and not in the workplace, their punishments should end with the hassles they have already been subjected to.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Keywords: Drugs

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Posted by usman on (September 14, 2012, 22:42 GMT)

well....the author is realli stoned i guess....i mean,if marijuana is banned in india,it can not be consumed,and if you do and then get caught,you have to pay the penalty.Its simple common sense...having beere or whisky or spraying champagne is not illegal in india.Yes,hash is a C class drug,and its not realli harmful,but thats not the point here,its not even about the icc rules on banned substances,its just basically a crime in india for which they should be punished,besides,icc also needs to make it clear which drugs are banned and which are not,i feel there is no point stopping sportsmen taking recreational drugs,yess,performance enhancing drugs should be banned...taking recreational drugs or alcahol abuse is a personal thing and all these things affect the human body negitively,hash does kill ur brain cells and alcohol is bad for liver...but u cant officially stop them from using it....

Posted by Shyam Sunder Reddy on (August 1, 2012, 4:33 GMT)

Rahul sharma should be sentenced to jail and this will be an warning to other players not to commit such offence.And later he should be given chance to play for indian cricket as he is a good found for india.

Posted by Tushar on (July 25, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

Its a police matter, Mr Chopra. These guys have done something that is illegal to do in India. As for BCCI, they should not ban these guys if these drugs are just competition prohibited drugs (the point author completely missed, ignored, or was not even aware of).

Posted by Bez on (July 25, 2012, 7:41 GMT)

@Joel - You still don't seem to get it. Samir is arguing - rightfully so, I believe - that these drugs should be as legal as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. He's not pretending they're legal - he's saying it's ridiculous that they're illegal. And it is. And this morality play over what two grown men did in their spare time is symptomatic of the same hypocritical he-said-she-said that pervades modern sport in all facets. Simply put, if a drug doesn't enhance your performance, then its use should be a non-factor to those bodies governing your sport. As for these drugs themselves (marijuana and MDMA), it's preposterous that they continue to be treated like sin. Evaluated per capita, alcohol's literally thousands of times more dangerous than both those drugs put together. But it's difficult for people to face these truths, and that's understandable - we spend our entire lives being brainwashed that "illegal" equates to "immoral" equates to "dangerous". It's all a farce. It's fiction.

Posted by Anonymous on (July 25, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

Sorry Mate, but its a rubbish article. I don't drink or smoke and certainly don't do drugs. In fact, I don't even drink coffee. So I can be objective about this.

You cannot compare drugs to coffee or even Beer. In fact your whole article is misleading. Instead of saying that drugs are wrong, you are basically saying that they are no more wrong than coffee or alcohol. You are telling people that if they can accept coffee, they should accept drugs too, they aren't any worse than that.

These cricketers knew that drugs aren't legal. While I accept that its their own time and their choice to do what they want, but these are roll-models to other kids. Maybe not by choice, but that is still the reality. BCCI can set an example by punishing them not just for them, but to show the kids that its certainly not acceptable to do drugs. Its bad enough we accept alcohol, do we really need kids growing up thinking drugs are fine?

Posted by Vaidya on (July 25, 2012, 4:11 GMT)

Morality is a very dodgy thing. I remember having an argument about drugs (recreational) with a friend who doesn't even touch alcohol. I was saying its wrong, while he was like "I could argue the same with alcohol". It all comes to where you draw the line and who does it. It could be perfectly acceptable for some to finish a long day with a can of beer. Surely its not addicting to have one occasionally based on the kind of day you had. Doesn't mean there won't be any who'd crucify anyone who consumes even a bit of alcohol. The same argument extends to recreational drugs. Just that the view from the other side is coloured similarly. Unfortunately for Rahul and Parnell, it doesn't matter where we draw the line, the Mumbai police draws it really far from where they were. You need a "permit" to even gulp a can of beer in Mumbai.

Posted by Sammy on (July 24, 2012, 20:12 GMT)

There is a big difference between recreational drugs and performance enhancing drugs like nandrolone which Pakistani players have been caught using and still using on a regular basis! But then again common sense is a scarce commodity across the border.

Posted by Ravi Sharma on (July 24, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

Have never read a more stupid and presumtious article than this. To equate coffee with ecstacy? I hope that you don't tell your child that if he drinks coffee then it is okay to use ecstacy. And for the hypocrates who condone this article - will yo let your sister or son use ecstacy if they drink coffee?

Look at the swimming champ "M. Phelp" (I think that is how his name is spelt). For a joint of marajuana, he lost some major contracts....Clearly his sponsors understand what Western value system holds and therefore pull the contracts. You are surprising me because you clearly don't undestand "drugs'. To extrapolate coffee usage to ecstacy usage is VERY simplistic and NAIVE. They sgould be punished to the full extent of the law!!!

Posted by Joel on (July 24, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

@Bez the effects of the the various drugs mentioned is irrelevent. The simple fact is that coffee, alcohol and nicotine are all legal substances. Ecstacy and canabis are not. Therefore both players committed a crime and should be punished accordingly in lines with Indian law for first time drug offences.

Posted by Atul Bhogle on (July 24, 2012, 9:35 GMT)

Samir, I must ask - what were you smoking? Did I just read an article by the editor of my most loved site supporting the usage of recreational drugs? The question of why drugs are illegal doesnt come up. Simple fact is, they are illegal and people are expected to follow the law of the land. I wouldnt even go into the crime that drugs encourage, and in fact, sustain, in India and rest of the world. The police are unnecessarily being made out to be the bad guys here. They raided a party where they suspected illegal drugs were being consumed and have been proven right. Where is the big injustice they are supposed to have doled out?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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