August 10, 2009

Haunted by virtue

A drug-testing regime as invasive as WADA's needs to be vigorously debated, and thanks to the opposition from India's cricketers maybe it will now be
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The BCCI's quarrel with the World Anti Doping Agency sums up the way cricket has been disciplined by time. From timeless matches to the five-day Test, to the one-day international, to the compressed frenzy of the Twenty20 game, and now an anti-doping regime that makes cricketers account for their near future by the hour.

WADA requires athletes and sportsmen to submit a schedule for three months that specifies an hour each day when they can be randomly tested for drugs. The Indian players have objected, arguing that they play cricket nine months of the year and don't want their leisure time to be invaded by WADA. The other objection that's been tabled is that Indian cricketers in general, and men like MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar in particular, have security needs that could be infringed by rigid, shared schedules.

WADA has made it clear that there will be no exceptions made for cricket. Every other cricket team, despite reservations, has signed up to the anti-doping regime, but the BCCI has asked the ICC to reject WADA's demands and create a drug-testing regime custom-made for cricket. Randhir Singh, secretary general of the Olympic Council of Asia, has made a statement saying that he thinks the BCCI should fall in line, and his reasons are unexceptionable: why should cricketers expect special treatment when hugely paid athletes in most other sports abide by the same rules? Similarly India's sports minister, MS Gill, has urged the BCCI not to hold out for special treatment.

Gill and Singh and WADA have decent arguments to make, and what's more, some great names to back them up with. Tiger Woods is possibly the best-paid, most famous, sportsman in the world and he's strongly in favour of testing. "I think we should be proactive instead of reactive. I just think we should be ahead of it and keep our sport as pure as can be." Woods specifically said that he was happy to be tested anywhere, at any time, without notice. On the face of it, then, WADA's regime is a good thing and the BCCI and the Indian players are doing what they do best: being spoilt prima donnas, moaning and asking for special favours.

But it isn't quite as simple as that. Cricket isn't the only sport that has resisted WADA's increasingly stringent testing regimes. In March this year, football's two most powerful bodies, UEFA and FIFA, rejected WADA's new code and asked the organisation to reconsider its rules given the special nature of team sport. Football's administrators argued that there was a basic difference between the individual athlete who trained privately, on his own, and footballers who trained collectively six days a week and were easy to locate. Like the BCCI, they asked for an exemption for players for the off-season "…in order to respect their private lives".

Towards the end of April, WADA and FIFA were reported to have resolved their differences, with FIFA's president offering full compliance with WADA's regulations. FIFA's English affiliate couldn't have got the message because in early August the Guardian reported that the FA was successfully resisting WADA's plan to test its elite international players. UK Sport, acting on behalf of WADA, had settled for elite women players and junior players. FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter, was pressing for "high-risk categories", namely injured players, to be target-tested, not leading international players. This sounds remarkably as if FIFA and the English FA are asking for exemptions for their male internationals and offering their women, children and wounded as substitutes.

And it isn't only football: the administrators of team sports like basketball, ice hockey and volleyball have all asked for clarifications. The BCCI is a soft target: a recent opinion piece on Cricinfo mocked as nonsensical the BCCI's invocation of the Indian constitution's guarantee of privacy. It's useful to note that the BBC news site reported earlier this year that "[…] sixty-five Belgian sportspeople have launched a legal challenge claiming that the intrusive nature of the WADA code breaks European Union privacy laws". If Yuvraj Singh's objections to the WADA code seem ludicrous because he's widely seen as one of a bunch of indulged Indian cricketers, we might attend to Rafael Nadal's objection to the new code, or that of Andy Murray, who said : "[…] these new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life". According to the BBC, "[…] the British Athletics Commission (BAC) chief executive warned that the tougher regulations meant a number of British athletes would retire if they missed two tests rather than risk the possibility of a ban and the subsequent suspicion if they were absent on a third occasion".

It's also important to understand that the sports administrators and players who object to the current testing regime aren't rejecting drug testing per se. In football 25,000 tests are carried out every year and 10 players, on an average, test positive annually. Blatter is asking for modifications to the new code that came into effect from the beginning of 2009. The problem is that the code was agreed in 2007 at a conference FIFA attended, which puts FIFA in roughly the same position as the BCCI: they're trying to renege on a code that they signed up for without reading the fine print.

Cricket does drug testing too. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, nandrolone, and were suspended from cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board. The problem is that the drug testing is done by national boards that are vulnerable to pressure. The treatment of Akhtar and Asif is a case in point: the first tribunal's suspension was set aside by a second tribunal, and the pair got away without serving a suspension. WADA was deeply unhappy and took its objection to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland with, interestingly, the blessing of the ICC, which said it wanted cricket cleansed of drug-taking, but the action came to nothing because the court declared that it didn't have jurisdiction over the PCB. But WADA was vindicated by the fact that the PCB's leniency encouraged Asif to err again: he tested positive in 2008 and is currently serving a year's ban.

What if someone invents a performance-enhancing drug that vanishes from scientific view in, say, 12 hours? A player could avoid detection by taking it 12 hours before the snoops are due. Going by the logic of WADA's testing regimen, players will then be required to set aside testing slots at eight-hourly intervals to forestall cheating. That way lies madness

Abhinav Bindra, India's only Olympic gold medalist, said in an interview last week that WADA's regime was easy to follow. He had declared himself available at home between seven and eight every morning because he was generally at home during then and, he added disarmingly, it was the time of day when it was easy produce a urine sample. When there was a change in his daily schedule, he logged in to the WADA site and entered the details of the change and specified an hour when he'd be available.

I'm not sure Bindra's testimony will change many minds in the Indian cricket team. This is partly because the rhythms of his stock-still sport have about as much to do with a cricketer's routines as a tree's habits have to do with a cheetah's daily round. Also, someone like Virender Sehwag or Ishant Sharma probably thinks of Bindra as a bespectacled nerd who likes fiddling with computers and tinkering with schedules.

It's wrong to generalise, but I think the reason Indian players are holding out when every other cricket-playing country has fallen in line has nothing to do with being perverse or arrogant: they're genuinely appalled by the thought that they have to schedule their lives three months in advance. Indians don't do schedules well: they don't plan their holidays a year in advance, they don't write their appointments down in a diary, they don't think it's wrong to default on a deadline, and if the art of the last minute was an Olympic sport you'd only see Indians on the medals podium.

Mithali Raj, the Indian batswoman (I'd say "batsperson" if it didn't suggest an ungendered vampire) had the most succinct take on this Indian view of the world. "During competitions, you are in one place and know your itinerary. When you are at home, you don't know about the next three hours, forget about three months… We plan things spontaneously, be it a movie or a dinner."

So while I'm convinced that cricket needs drug testing (specially in the IPL epoch, when the monetary pressure on cricketers to recover from injury is enormous), it isn't clear to me that WADA's new Big Brother regime is the only way to go. It's certainly wholly contrary to the Indian instinct to extemporise leisure. But this is bigger than the Indian players, the BCCI or the ICC or cricket. A code that makes your professional livelihood contingent on ambush testing the year round, seriously threatens a player's privacy.

The rationale for a player making himself available every day at a particular time is that there are sophisticated drugs that don't show up after a day. WADA can't give the athlete even a day's notice for fear that he might time his intake so that the drug's effects wear off before the appointed hour. But what if someone invents a performance-enhancing drug that vanishes from scientific view in, say, 12 hours? A player could avoid detection by taking it 12 hours before the snoops are due. Going by the logic of WADA's testing regimen, players will then be required to set aside testing slots at eight-hourly intervals to forestall cheating. That way lies madness: a sporting life organised around and haunted by inquisitorial ghosts.

The sporting world may well come to the conclusion that this imposition is worthwhile if it delivers credible, drug-free competition, but a code as invasive as this one needs to be publicly and vigorously debated. To those who ask with elaborate irony, how it comes to pass that only India's cricketers have made a stand, the short answer is that they have because they can. The BCCI's enormous financial clout, the fact that cricket has nearly nothing to do with international sporting bodies like the IOC (and can't therefore be stampeded into acquiescence by the threat of being banned from the Olympics) gives them the leeway, the breathing space, to argue this case. Instead of sneering at Tendulkar and Co we ought to thank them for initiating this conversation.

Mukul Kesavan is a novelist, essayist and historian based in New Delhi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY wanderer1 on | August 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    Maybe the pampered Indian players would do better to stop focusing on the money, (which let's be honest is what it's all about), and more on Cricket. Money comes and goes, just look at the western world and their dire economic situation, bankrupted by their own arrogance and freedom fighters. Concentrate on cricket or you may find yourselves without a good sporting team nor money.

  • POSTED BY aryaman1994 on | August 13, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    Wonderful article. I completely agree with you. I think the reason only Indian cricketers are complaining is because they play the most cricket. After being on the road for nearly all of nine months, the least you want is a little peace in the remaining months. How can a player know where he where he will be for each day of the next 3 months? It would be much better if the testers could contact the players one day before they want to conduct the test and ask them when and where they can be tested. If not 1 day then maybe 1 week. But there's no way a plater can be expected to specify where he will be for each day of the next three months.

  • POSTED BY mkesavan on | August 12, 2009, 2:08 GMT

    moronosaurus, we can debate this but you do need to read the piece first. 1. "...you fail to mention that the schedule... can be altered online at short notice." "When there was a change in his (Bindra's) daily schedule, he logged in to the WADA site and entered the details of the change." 2. "You fail to mention the benefits and temptations for fatigued cricketers to use drugs." "I'm convinced that cricket needs drug testing (specially in the IPL epoch, when the monetary pressure on cricketers to recover from injury is enormous)" 3. "You misrepresent the capitulation by FIFA to WADA as a 'deal'." I summarize the Guardian's report on this:http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/aug/04/fa-uk-sport-wada-digger Try not to allow the money Dhoni and Yuvraj make to get in the way of thought. Even if they weren't 'overpaid' there'd still be an issue to attend to.

  • POSTED BY dacha on | August 12, 2009, 1:04 GMT

    There is only one justifiable reason for Indian players to not be avaiable under the current conditions and that is safety, all the rest concerning culture are simply too close to racism. Cricket is neither a unique or special case, nor are cricketers somehow more precious than the rest of the sporting community. Remember the example of baseball. Surely the following "The BCCI's enormous financial clout, the fact that cricket has nearly nothing to do with international sporting bodies like the IOC (and can't therefore be stampeded into acquiescence by the threat of being banned from the Olympics) gives them the leeway, the breathing space, to argue this case." gives the game away. The BCCI's position has nothing to do with what is right for cricket, their own cricketer's, or the sporting community in general. Their just flexing their muscle and putting a bit of stick about the rest of the world be damned. Neo colonialism at it's very worst.

  • POSTED BY majeeak on | August 11, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    It is disappointing that our legends refused to take part in WADA requirements. As a responsible player and representative of our great nation, they are obliged to represent INDIA drug free. If they cant do that... please retire from sports and let the new drug free players to play for the country.... Supporting these players are equal to support use of drugs in cricket... as we had already similar bad name in match fixing.

  • POSTED BY r1m2 on | August 11, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Thanks Mukul for writing this great article to shed some light on reality. I was amazed to see the Cricinfo poll result related to this, where majority of votes went in support of the WADA rule. I'd like to see them put in these athletes' shoes, and see how far they go. I think the security concern itself is not just for Dhoni or Tendulkar. If I had to let a certain body be aware of my whereabouts for every single hour in a day, I would quit that profession without another moment of thought. I know these athletes are not going to do that, so all the power to them to fight this out. I admit that I'd gotten so used to blaming BCCI for everything that when this came to light I was a bit shocked at my reaction. On one hand I felt my conscience forcing me to side with the cricketers and BCCI, on the other, it's BCCI, they're wrong. But what's wrong is wrong, invasion of privacy to this massive scale is wrong, sick and perverted. WADA just needs to pay their "analysts", so why'd they care?

  • POSTED BY cric4india on | August 11, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Isolated occasion of sense prevailing talk in more than 2 weeks, Mukul! It is worth acknowledging you could see through the matter unlike the thousands who lick the surface off the cream and make known their verdict. The last 4-5 lines command respect for the fact you could see the other side of things like as to why the BCCI and the Indian players are opposing WADA clause unlike others who merely see it as snobbery. Just two words, Thank you!

  • POSTED BY jayray999 on | August 11, 2009, 19:03 GMT

    The Telegraph on 19 Feb 2009 reported "Sixteen world and Olympic rowing medallists have published an open letter branding the World Anti-Doping Agency's new 'whereabouts' rule changes "an impractical and unworkable regime." In their open letter the athletes write, "We spend our days panicking; having to always think about when our nominated hour is on that day, any upcoming changes of plans, if there's any chance recently that we've missed a test. We absolutely support both no-notice testing and strict sanctions; what we object to is this impractical and unworkable regime. There are far better ways of catching doping cheats than this." So are these athletes Indian stooges? Are they shills for the BCCI? Check out the full text of the letter: http://www.rowingservice.com/RowingWADAletter09.pdf

  • POSTED BY oldmanofsea on | August 11, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    One of the most sensible article on the issue. I fully support the Indian cricketers on this issue. The solution to sophisticted drugs is not the arbitrary and ridiculous whereabouts clause. The solution is sophisticated drug testing techniques. Of course, the drug manufacturers will always be ahead of drug testing research. So, make the penalty of being caught severe. A drug that is sophisticated today will not be so 1 or 2 years from now. So, even if an athelete's sample is found positive at a later date, punish him/her severely. Retracting medals and awards may not be enough. 1 or 2 year bans may not be enough. Sometthing like a minimum of 2 years imprisonment might do the trick in dissuading players from using performance enhancing drugs.

  • POSTED BY moronosaurus on | August 11, 2009, 15:59 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan, Apologist Extraordinaire... you fail to mention that the schedule that needs to be handed three months in advance is a provisional one and that it can be altered online at short notice. You fail to mention the benefits and temptations for fatigued cricketers to use drugs. You misrepresent the capitulation by FIFA to WADA as a 'deal'. You place the needs of (overpaid) individuals above the good of the sport. You bring up vacuous points about privacy and security - if Dhoni and Yuvraj can tell their security people where they are every day, then surely they can tell the WADA folks the same thing. But ... you know what? I don't know why I care. You are merely a writer, and not a responsible sports journalist, which means you have to pander to your audience. Well done. Why don't you plug your latest book while you're at it? (And yes, I know the BCCI will win and drag cricket off the world stage.)

  • POSTED BY wanderer1 on | August 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    Maybe the pampered Indian players would do better to stop focusing on the money, (which let's be honest is what it's all about), and more on Cricket. Money comes and goes, just look at the western world and their dire economic situation, bankrupted by their own arrogance and freedom fighters. Concentrate on cricket or you may find yourselves without a good sporting team nor money.

  • POSTED BY aryaman1994 on | August 13, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    Wonderful article. I completely agree with you. I think the reason only Indian cricketers are complaining is because they play the most cricket. After being on the road for nearly all of nine months, the least you want is a little peace in the remaining months. How can a player know where he where he will be for each day of the next 3 months? It would be much better if the testers could contact the players one day before they want to conduct the test and ask them when and where they can be tested. If not 1 day then maybe 1 week. But there's no way a plater can be expected to specify where he will be for each day of the next three months.

  • POSTED BY mkesavan on | August 12, 2009, 2:08 GMT

    moronosaurus, we can debate this but you do need to read the piece first. 1. "...you fail to mention that the schedule... can be altered online at short notice." "When there was a change in his (Bindra's) daily schedule, he logged in to the WADA site and entered the details of the change." 2. "You fail to mention the benefits and temptations for fatigued cricketers to use drugs." "I'm convinced that cricket needs drug testing (specially in the IPL epoch, when the monetary pressure on cricketers to recover from injury is enormous)" 3. "You misrepresent the capitulation by FIFA to WADA as a 'deal'." I summarize the Guardian's report on this:http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/aug/04/fa-uk-sport-wada-digger Try not to allow the money Dhoni and Yuvraj make to get in the way of thought. Even if they weren't 'overpaid' there'd still be an issue to attend to.

  • POSTED BY dacha on | August 12, 2009, 1:04 GMT

    There is only one justifiable reason for Indian players to not be avaiable under the current conditions and that is safety, all the rest concerning culture are simply too close to racism. Cricket is neither a unique or special case, nor are cricketers somehow more precious than the rest of the sporting community. Remember the example of baseball. Surely the following "The BCCI's enormous financial clout, the fact that cricket has nearly nothing to do with international sporting bodies like the IOC (and can't therefore be stampeded into acquiescence by the threat of being banned from the Olympics) gives them the leeway, the breathing space, to argue this case." gives the game away. The BCCI's position has nothing to do with what is right for cricket, their own cricketer's, or the sporting community in general. Their just flexing their muscle and putting a bit of stick about the rest of the world be damned. Neo colonialism at it's very worst.

  • POSTED BY majeeak on | August 11, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    It is disappointing that our legends refused to take part in WADA requirements. As a responsible player and representative of our great nation, they are obliged to represent INDIA drug free. If they cant do that... please retire from sports and let the new drug free players to play for the country.... Supporting these players are equal to support use of drugs in cricket... as we had already similar bad name in match fixing.

  • POSTED BY r1m2 on | August 11, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Thanks Mukul for writing this great article to shed some light on reality. I was amazed to see the Cricinfo poll result related to this, where majority of votes went in support of the WADA rule. I'd like to see them put in these athletes' shoes, and see how far they go. I think the security concern itself is not just for Dhoni or Tendulkar. If I had to let a certain body be aware of my whereabouts for every single hour in a day, I would quit that profession without another moment of thought. I know these athletes are not going to do that, so all the power to them to fight this out. I admit that I'd gotten so used to blaming BCCI for everything that when this came to light I was a bit shocked at my reaction. On one hand I felt my conscience forcing me to side with the cricketers and BCCI, on the other, it's BCCI, they're wrong. But what's wrong is wrong, invasion of privacy to this massive scale is wrong, sick and perverted. WADA just needs to pay their "analysts", so why'd they care?

  • POSTED BY cric4india on | August 11, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Isolated occasion of sense prevailing talk in more than 2 weeks, Mukul! It is worth acknowledging you could see through the matter unlike the thousands who lick the surface off the cream and make known their verdict. The last 4-5 lines command respect for the fact you could see the other side of things like as to why the BCCI and the Indian players are opposing WADA clause unlike others who merely see it as snobbery. Just two words, Thank you!

  • POSTED BY jayray999 on | August 11, 2009, 19:03 GMT

    The Telegraph on 19 Feb 2009 reported "Sixteen world and Olympic rowing medallists have published an open letter branding the World Anti-Doping Agency's new 'whereabouts' rule changes "an impractical and unworkable regime." In their open letter the athletes write, "We spend our days panicking; having to always think about when our nominated hour is on that day, any upcoming changes of plans, if there's any chance recently that we've missed a test. We absolutely support both no-notice testing and strict sanctions; what we object to is this impractical and unworkable regime. There are far better ways of catching doping cheats than this." So are these athletes Indian stooges? Are they shills for the BCCI? Check out the full text of the letter: http://www.rowingservice.com/RowingWADAletter09.pdf

  • POSTED BY oldmanofsea on | August 11, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    One of the most sensible article on the issue. I fully support the Indian cricketers on this issue. The solution to sophisticted drugs is not the arbitrary and ridiculous whereabouts clause. The solution is sophisticated drug testing techniques. Of course, the drug manufacturers will always be ahead of drug testing research. So, make the penalty of being caught severe. A drug that is sophisticated today will not be so 1 or 2 years from now. So, even if an athelete's sample is found positive at a later date, punish him/her severely. Retracting medals and awards may not be enough. 1 or 2 year bans may not be enough. Sometthing like a minimum of 2 years imprisonment might do the trick in dissuading players from using performance enhancing drugs.

  • POSTED BY moronosaurus on | August 11, 2009, 15:59 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan, Apologist Extraordinaire... you fail to mention that the schedule that needs to be handed three months in advance is a provisional one and that it can be altered online at short notice. You fail to mention the benefits and temptations for fatigued cricketers to use drugs. You misrepresent the capitulation by FIFA to WADA as a 'deal'. You place the needs of (overpaid) individuals above the good of the sport. You bring up vacuous points about privacy and security - if Dhoni and Yuvraj can tell their security people where they are every day, then surely they can tell the WADA folks the same thing. But ... you know what? I don't know why I care. You are merely a writer, and not a responsible sports journalist, which means you have to pander to your audience. Well done. Why don't you plug your latest book while you're at it? (And yes, I know the BCCI will win and drag cricket off the world stage.)

  • POSTED BY mrms on | August 11, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    When we go for a vacation do we want our activities to be monitored or interrupted due to professional reasons? If we do not want our personal lives to be encroached by our professional lives, the players have every right to act alike. Some have commented that the cricketers can "easily" update the database in case of schedule change. The assumption is that the players will always carry a laptop/ blackberry/ something similar that provides internet facility, just for entry updation due to last minute changes in schedule. Such constraint can never be imposed or ensured. RS Rathod was spot on when he said that we shouldnt have to give in advance our whereabouts to the police just because we all want crime-free society. I am happy that BCCI has raised this issue. With the debate shaking the sports world, I believe that reservations of more and more sportspersons and authorities against the WADA clause will surface now.

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | August 11, 2009, 13:14 GMT

    For people who think only BCCI wants a change in the 'Whereabouts' clause of WADA please have a look at "http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/may/12/wada-drugs-doping-athletes-whereabouts" The title of the article is "Threat forced Wada 'whereabouts' climbdown", It begins as "World Anti-Doping Agency officials made an embarrassing climbdown over their controversial demands over athletes' whereabouts after being warned by European governments that the agency's funding would be cut". and the statement from Wada's president, John Fahey is "Anti-doping organisations based in Europe must respect their national data-protection laws [which] prevail over the standard,". If somebody says Indian constitution guarantees privacy protection to it's citizens then it's not a joke. While we do not need to reject WADA alltogether, it can be pressuriuzed to amend the 'whereabouts' clause to make it more practical and human.

  • POSTED BY Sunshyne on | August 11, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    Thinking from the cheating cricketer's perspective ... If I can log in on a website and change my 'whereabouts' ... I can do so when I know I am taking PEDs. This way I will always avoid getting tested. Is that a loophole?

  • POSTED BY idontknowidontcare on | August 11, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    Contd (2) .... 3. Abhinav Bindra is OK with the testing. .... Again, my counter-argument no. 1 applies. In addition, with due respect to Bindra and his gold medal, Sachin Tendulkar is a bigger sportsperson, so you should really ask the following: "Why doesn't Abhinav Bindra oppose the testing when Sachin Tendulkar is against it?" Why should this argument be any less valid than what is currently being said? ......... 4. Cricket should be WADA compliant to be an Olympic sport. ... To begin with, 5-day Test Cricket can never be a part of the Olympics, even if the whole world plays it. Even otherwise, if the Olympic rules come at the expense of the game, you don't play at the Olympics. Simple. For example, what if they make a rule that an Olympic sport must have minimum 5 "judges" (umpires and/or referees). Would you change the Laws of the Game just because you want to play Olympics? You don't.

  • POSTED BY idontknowidontcare on | August 11, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    Following are some of the arguments raised in favour of dope testing, and my counter-argument against each of them.

    1. Everyone else is happy with WADA's rules, so why should Indian cricketers go against it? ...... Is that how you decide what is right and wrong? Based on who or how many are for or against? If you have had any history lessons, you would know that in the Western world, a handful of people went against a certain religion and claimed that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Now, what do you say? Everyone believes the Sun revolves round the Earth, so what is your problem? I am sorry, but that is just not correct. ......... 2. MS Gill has urged BCCi to fall in line ...... So what? He is just a minister. It is none of his business to decide what the cricket board should do. This would set a bad precedent. In the future, the Prime Minister may ask the selectors to go with 3 spinners and 2 wicketkeepers, and that is just not done. Contd ....

  • POSTED BY Namit_cric on | August 11, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    China is the most populous country and it is communist. So, if tomorrow, someone comes to your country and says you should become communist, giving you China's example, would you accept it? Then how is using the example of "most sports persons" acceptable? Forget the Indian cricketers, would you find it acceptable if, say, your tax department expected you to register 3 months in advance where you will be for an hour every day? I know the example is absurd, but the point is - why should anyone have the right to ask such things of you? Why should sports persons pay such a price? Also, as someone already pointed out, what if you're trekking/hiking in the Himalaya's for 10 days? How do you provide whereabouts? Or perhaps you're not allowed to do such things?!?!

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | August 11, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    Good article Mukul. By the way, the gender neutral term is "batter". And no Rohan Shastri, Bindra and the others are the real arrogant ones here by claiming that the Indian cricket team should stop whinging about an authoratative, in-your-face drug-testing program just because he's a semi-amateur with plenty of free time on his hands.

    If WADA says that some drugs avoid detection after 24 hours they should get their drug detecting scientists to improve their testing technology. Why should sports atheletes of all games (the majority of which are honest and clean) suffer because WADA aren't with the times. If we are capable of sending man to the moon, inventing mobile phone internet and super strong cricket bats which can send any ball for six, I'm sure there is room for improvement in WADA's drug testing regime.

  • POSTED BY Nkrtk on | August 11, 2009, 9:04 GMT

    Further, there must be reasonable exceptions to such a rule, e.g, if the player can prove that he/she was stuck up in a remote inaccessible place with no testing centers nearby, they can be allowed 1-2 extra days to show up for testing.

    This takes care of all the security & privacy issues. The players don't need to disclose their whereabouts 3 months in advance, they don't even need to tell the testers where they are as long as they show up at a test center convenient to them (no security problems). Not much inconvenience to the players in the form of constant need to update their location. He/she just needs to be in communication (e-mail or SMS or phone) on almost all days of their off-season (which most modern people already do). This stills allows random drug testing during the off-season albeit with a short prior notice, which has the same probability of catching a cheat as the current inflexible 'whereabouts' regime.

  • POSTED BY mrms on | August 11, 2009, 9:02 GMT

    If I've to tell where I'd be available @7pm 15 days from now, I cant give any confirmed answer. It becomes more difficult for vacation days. Some have suggested that players can update the database in case of a schedule change. The assumption is that they are carrying laptop /blackberry /something similar that provides internet facility. This constraint can never be imposed or ensured. Do we want to be monitored/ interrupted due to professional bindings when we r in a vacation? If not, then we cant expect the same from the cricketers. And the cricketers are saying that they are willing to undergo the tests, but they just dont want to reveal the schedule in advance. Are they asking for too much? RS Rathod was spot on when he said that we shouldnt have to give in advance our whereabouts to the police just because we all want crime-free society. Good that BCCI has raised this issue. I believe reservations of more and more sportspersons and authorities reg the WADA code will surface now

  • POSTED BY Nkrtk on | August 11, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    Mukul, there is no need to invent new drugs that vanish in 12 hours! If the existing drugs are so sophisticated that detection can be avoided if the player is given a day's notice, then WADA's whereabouts rule is completely useless. A smart player intending to cheat can just signup for 6am-7am slot on one day and for the 10pm-11pm slot the next day. He can take the drug just after 7am on the first day and it has 39 hours to vanish before the testers come at 10 pm on the second day.

    I believe the solution to this entire issue is simple and all that is required is some flexibility. The existing 'whereabouts' clause can be applied during the playing season, with the team and player jointly responsible for providing the whereabouts information. During off-season, the player can be sent a notice with two options: (a) present yourself at your nearest dope testing center within 48 hours (or) (b) inform the testers of the location & timeslot at which you can be tested within 48 hours.

  • POSTED BY NumberXI on | August 11, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    "And officials from a majority of the ICC board constituents, including Australia and South Africa, have confided that they would support India fully on the 'whereabouts' issue, but would like to remain WADA-compliant for important reasons, not the least of which is the question of government support."

    And this is from Cricinfo!!

    For all those making this out as a "BCCI / Indian cricketers only" issue, it might be worth knowing that cricketers from Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka have expressed unhappiness at the whereabouts requirements. And it is on Cricinfo too.

  • POSTED BY rahilkh on | August 11, 2009, 2:29 GMT

    So, how would you suggest we test the Indian cricketers for drugs? What if a young cricketer DOES start using a sophisticated drug? How would we catch such players? Do you have any solution? If not then WADA has every right to implement the solution it currently has in place. It is not WADA's fault that players and drugs manufacturers continue to invent drugs and mechanism to cheat the system.

  • POSTED BY soumyaparida on | August 11, 2009, 0:40 GMT

    I didnt know quick recovery drugs are not allowed... When perforance enhancing swimsuits are... Anyways, even I wouldnt be able to give 1month of advanced notice aout my whereabouts, and with a tag of being banned for missing the tests, I would certainly not commit to anything like that.

    I would however agree to this, with a 6 hour notice I can disclose my whereabouts so that a test can be done. I think they should think about it.

  • POSTED BY lexusp on | August 10, 2009, 23:54 GMT

    hey why are the indian cricketers' afraid of a simple drug test when billions of sportsmen of various nationalities abide by it. If they are innocent why cant they take the drug test and get it over with. Every sport has been treated the same way by the WADA and so should be cricket

  • POSTED BY Number_5 on | August 10, 2009, 23:21 GMT

    Drugs in sport are a huge issue.

    The Olympics have become a joke due to the number of athletes still able to take drugs and get away with it.

    The Drug tester's can only test for drugs they know exist, and a lot of the drugs that are taken are new and not on the drug testing radar. This is why samples are kept for a number of years to allow for retrospective testing.

    The main issue it appears is the huge popularity of the indian players and the sheer mass of their population, making it near impossible for them to live a "normal" life.

    I wouldnt like to see the ICC turn its back on the olympics (even thought im not a fan of T20) but at the same time you have to feel for the indian players and their desire for some normality in life..as a parent i would hate to bring my kids up in an environment where you fear for their safety 24/7 as the indian players may due to their privacy being breached.

    Great article but im still not convinced...

  • POSTED BY Rohan_Shastri on | August 10, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    The Indian cricketers are genuinely appaulled PRECISELY BECAUSE they are arrogant and think that they are above the law. And if Indians don't do schedules well, then perhaps they will do well to learn that discipline. And to mention the high egos of Yuvraj Singh in the same breath as the humble Rafa Nadal (who still books court time at his paint peeling Tennis Club Manacor, just as any other person would) is an indiscretion in itself. Besides, what the writer fails to point out is that Nadal simply made the observation of how stringent the regulations were. At no point has he suggested that he would not conform to the regulation. Besides if we were to use Rafa Nadal's example, then the Indian cricketers would be flying basic Coach Class to Australia ......

  • POSTED BY Bharat_number_1 on | August 10, 2009, 21:10 GMT

    There seem to be 2 problems that need to be addressed:

    1. The WADA perspective: Sportspersons need to be constantly checked so as to ensure no doping has taken place in a time-intensive manner. The window has to be less than 12 hours.

    2. Privacy is a very important issue. Cricketers have been and constantly do have threats from terrorists and from nubile teenagers that want to get married to the biggest sports star.

    The solution is pretty simple: Why not give every cricketer and sportsperson 3 tamper proof urine cases with time locks on them. once you fil them up it locks itself and registers the time and date.

    Whenever the WADA needs to check the sportspersons urine, they can give that person a call and the player can do whatever is needed and send the bottle to WADA.

    The same can be done with blood if thats needed - ofcourse the WADA would need a control sample to ensure its your blood and this can be done in any local clinic.

  • POSTED BY Mani_ on | August 10, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    What if any of the athletes decides to go on a hiking trip and now knowing where he will be camping.... he doesn't has a clue where he will be then how the heck he can give details to WADA that he will be available for this hour..... I mean WADA was created by the most stupid and impractical person on the whole planet.... I am a Pakistan team supporter but I am with the indian team on this.... Man i mean if i was a sports person I would have for sure either sued WADA or the ICC for signing the contract and compromising the privacy..... And will WADA accept the responsibility of any mishap that happens... i guess not.... so they are just some crazy people trying to make the sports people modern slaves.... Why can't they accept that when ever they want to conduct a test they can ask the respective board to find out the location within 24 hours.... that sound completely logical to a person with brains which i don't think any of the WADA people have.

  • POSTED BY corpusninja on | August 10, 2009, 19:07 GMT

    1. WADA made an abitrary rule 2. Tennis players, amongst others, saw it as draconian 3. Indian cricketers reacted the same. But they are the only ones with the financial independence to demand a better drug testing regime 4. ---> Logically, one hopes a new cricket specific drug testing standard emerges from all this. Standardisation of drug testing procedures across sports is by no means necessary (though it may be convenient for WADA to strengthen its brand)

    End of discussion, let's play some cricket.

  • POSTED BY Pavan_2020 on | August 10, 2009, 19:01 GMT

    "they don't plan their holidays a year in advance, they don't write their appointments down in a diary, they don't think it's wrong to default on a deadline, and if the art of the last minute was an Olympic sport you'd only see Indians on the medals podium. "

    Just for this line I can give you a "Gold" - Brilliant! Agree with every point in your article.

  • POSTED BY moronosaurus on | August 10, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    In less than a thousand words, Kesavan points out why Indians are the worst sporting country in the world - they are too lazy to schedule, and their supporters condone it. Well done, losers.

  • POSTED BY 1983worldcup on | August 10, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    All sportspersons first of all human beings - I don't buy the argument that just because they make a lot of dough they need to be accountable for every minute of their professional lives. For a few black sheep, you cannot punish the whole herd. For all posters here grudging the money that these people earn - people like Sachin Tendulkar and others I am sure, lost their normal childhood practicing day-in, day-out and they deserve what they get. They bring joy to millions around the world, while they a price of being away from their families and normal lives.

    GVmpani and others, why is Ricky Ponting the most booed captain in world cricket? Dont use every forum to show your anti Indian bias.

  • POSTED BY Margin_of_Safety on | August 10, 2009, 17:27 GMT

    C'mon Mukul...seriously....Indian's don't do schedules....this article is seriously disappointing..and shows that you guys will go to any length to make fake excuses...when your fellow countryman (Bindra) can make the time...I find it hard to believe the others cannot...

  • POSTED BY ardbeg on | August 10, 2009, 17:26 GMT

    Looks like there is a niche market for portable testing. Most of these overpaid athletes have a blackberry or an iphone. Device an application where you pee/spit on the phone and it uploads the test results to WADA. How cool is that?

  • POSTED BY VivaVizag on | August 10, 2009, 17:23 GMT

    @GVimpani: Not to digress but did I actually read Ponting and grace in the same sentence? Whoa which planet are you from mate?

  • POSTED BY D.V.C. on | August 10, 2009, 16:48 GMT

    Best article I have read on this topic, and one that is in line with my own sentiment.

  • POSTED BY TwitterJitter on | August 10, 2009, 16:08 GMT

    To answer some of the critics (especially in the Aussie media. Greg Baum, Ben Dorries, Malcomm Conn et. all) of Indians here as primadonnas who think they are better than other cricketers, here is an analogy that might put things in perspective. Australia withdrew from the Davis cup that was scheduled in India earlier this year on the basis of security and the same stance was adopted by the English badminton team this week on the grounds of security. However, the Aussie press started spinning this as an example of how security could be a problem in India for the Common Wealth Games next year. Going by the same logic can't we now argue that English and Aussie players think they are prima donnas who think that their security matters more than that of rest of the world who seemed to participate in the event? Is it that one rule applies in the journalists minds for Aussies and English and the other for the sub-continent?

  • POSTED BY thewombat on | August 10, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan makes some good points, but the whole article is wasted. When you are a body like the BCCI that routinely tries to throw it's weight around, to try and control who can and can't play cricket and the circumstances under which they can play it, and generally tries to rule cricket with an iron fist-on the one occasion where you try and play the victim, and might really genuinely be such, nobody believes you because you have no credibility. It's called the boy who cried wolf syndrome. The Indians therefore need to accept they must sign up to the WADA code and the whereabouts clause, and if they find this onerous, they have only their own board to blame, and should democratically fight to get a better one in future.

  • POSTED BY GP2008 on | August 10, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    While I'm against cricket having a special status on WADA code, I do want to speak for all the other sports people, who some how seem to accepting that there can't be much done in devicing a solution for the privacy and planning problem. Why can't WADA look into clause such as availability of players to access them through phone any day for a dope check with in an hour or two hours notice. This will be better for both parties. If WADA gets a hint that the player is involved, in doping activity, they can immediately call them and fly-in the test team for a test. And the players don't have to tell where they are but just have a communication mechanism. This is age of technology like mobile phones, satcom phones, text messages. Can't they think of some innovative way of doing things? Or other players can't voice for better solutions? Or WADA think tank, admitting that they don't have brain to find a better way. Common WADA live upto the demands of this world.

  • POSTED BY StreetCricketer on | August 10, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    This is a much-needed well balanced article on the topic after a number of cheap attacks. As Mukul correctly points out, WADA needs can get even more draconian as science makes progress. May be WADA needs more tools than just drug testing. May be it can put some of the burdon of drug-free sports the drug manufacturers and distributors by regulating them. I think there are options to be considered and the players and officials should be commended for participating in the debate.

  • POSTED BY rajsrawat05 on | August 10, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    Dear Mukul, thanks for this perspective. Our cricketers are not against drug-testing but they do really have genuine security& private space needs. cricket is altogether different from indvidual sports. Hence need for a different drug testing path. WADA rules are draconian.Yes,we must oppose as we can. Others signed coz they couldnt. Our cricketers are playing almost year round. WADA can test during that time. Just bcoz some esteemed players like woods,federer,nadal etc signed, doesnt make sense we should sign. This time the BCCI is right in backing players. Cricket is more a game of attributes like skill,concentration than physical prowess. PED cant make u swing ball,bowl doosra etc. Yes,cricket should be free of drugs. But WADA rules we dont necessarily adhere to. ICC should make its independent anti-doping unit. At no cost,we should comply to WADA. Moreover, It doesnt matter if cricket doesnt become Olympics sport. Who needs that anyway? Indians canl sustain it eternally.

  • POSTED BY Nuna_Boy on | August 10, 2009, 14:01 GMT

    The majority of you posters seem think that this whole issue is anti-Indian! It affects all equally. Doping controls have been integral in many sports for many years. Cycling in particular has had a checkered past with regards to doping, but it is through out of season testing that it is progressively getting cleaner. WADA should not have to bow to the BCCI nor will they. If India don't conform they don't compete, simple. These are professional athletes and with that comes accountability to ones country and sponsors and doping controls is one domain where this occurs. If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.

  • POSTED BY nubes on | August 10, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    this article has genuinely produced a platform for debate on the 'whereabout' issue. this is redicululous to be afraid of Cricket not being endorsed as an Olimpic event because of BCCI's refusal to sign the WADA code. i don't however care about this potential exclusion for the sake of my personal privacy. to those with this fear, Cricket has long been a great team sport without being an Olympic event for more than a century and its popularity is increasing day by day with the invent of the idea of T20 format. Credit must be paid to the BCCI, the world's most innovative cricket board for their stance on the issue. They have at least this time proved the western so called universal theorists wrong of not being able to deliver a universal theory. The BCCI has shown what stand apart is the sub-continental culture because this culture does not teach to be a member of the group of ship to jump together into the pond (the WADA code)! we can perform better without planning in advance...

  • POSTED BY jayray999 on | August 10, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    Yet if you google 'Tiger Woods Lasik' you'll find that the great golfer has 20/15 vision and perhaps parabolic corneas thanks to LASIK. Why does WADA prohibit chemical substances but turn a blind eye to surgical procedures? And why isn't injury declared the 'natural' state and injured athletes required to recover without recourse to either knife or hypodermic needle? Surely that is a huge gap in WADA's carefully woven web to catch cheats? So why cant there be other gaps that take into account the specifics of certain sports and cultures. Yes, the threat of attacks on Tendulkar and Dhoni is part of Indian culture. WADA is a classic bureaucratic setup that equates the arbitrarily legal with the infallibly divine. Just because a rule exists does not mean it was handed to us by Moses. It was voted upon and as such is open to discussion, debate and gasp, even amendment. The ICC rushed to embrace WADA. Why should the BCCI be committed to a ruinous course of action by its inept parent body?

  • POSTED BY Xen0phon on | August 10, 2009, 13:26 GMT

    a) Drug testing is good. b) Whereabouts clause is bad. c) No, all the other sports in the world are not WADA compliant either. d) Nobody likes it. Those who accept is are putting up with it for a variety of reasons. e) The Aussie cricketers do no like it. The NZ players do no like it. The RSA players do not like it either. They just have to put up with it primarily for monetary reasons (in light of their boards' affiliation with their governments). All these players are hoping that the BCCI wins so that they can lead sane lives. f)WADA's attitude and browbeating is quite sickening in general. Its chairman, John Fahey, comes across as a boor. His veiled threats that the Commonwealth Games in Delhi will be affected even though cricket is not a part of it is just one of many ridiculous statements made by him. g)I personally couldn't care less if Cricket is not a part of the Olympics. The Olympics has dwindled into a corporatised, commercial splurge that lacks any of the spirit of peace, love and harmony that it is supposed to embody ...

    Just because players make a lot of money doesn't mean that they have to give up their fundamental rights.

  • POSTED BY the_silent_observer on | August 10, 2009, 13:19 GMT

    In the sophisticated analysis and 'persuasive arguments', what Mr. Kesavan has forgotten is that Indian cricketers (batsmen and batswomen) though unpredictable in their behaviour and schedule, are NOT that unpredictable that they will not know their 'whereabouts' at a particular time! what Abhinav had suggested was a very practical and fool-proof solution and the fact that Mukul is suggesting that the cricketers will not buy that makes me believe that either the solution is not understood or there are skeletons (non-drugged, of course) in the cup-board. Yet another point conveniently missed out by Mukul is the 'security concern'. Maybe, he may want to address that in his next defence!

  • POSTED BY dcrowle on | August 10, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    GVimpani, well said. I think you've probably summed up the feeling of all cricket supporters (outside India of course - but I can understand parochialism) quite well.

  • POSTED BY 1948 on | August 10, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    we Indians any how drug free players why they are hesitatjng to sign on Wada regulations ,it is time to Bcci &indian cricket player to sign on that with out hesitation ,most of the world teams singed that treaty, come on we also go along with them.

  • POSTED BY kapsy on | August 10, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    WADA is yet another regulatory body that typifies the western appetite for over-regulation and handing virtually unlimited power to a small group of bureaucrats whose tyrennical and draconian methods ensure that a huge number of sporting lives are at their mercy. if this isn't dictatorship, what is?

    WADA couldn't care less just how many sportsmen get hurt by their stringent. oppressive and often superfluous "laws" and demands. it is one thing to clean out drugs from sport but to make every sporteman a puppet, isn't it. if FIFA or tiger woods want to subscribe to WADA's dictatorial ways, it's their perogative. others don't need to should follow suit blindly.

    i applaud the BCCI for taking this stand. however, i fear that it's just not strong enough to stand upto the might of WADA and the political pressure that it can apply. it would be sad to see the future of sport being contained, clinical and devoid of what it should be - simply sport!

  • POSTED BY Trapper439 on | August 10, 2009, 12:16 GMT

    I highly doubt that Mukul, or any of those who have posted comments agreeing with his stance, had even the slightest problem whatsoever with the WADA testing regime before the Indian players refused to sign up to it. The Indians are circling the wagons now?

  • POSTED BY jamrith on | August 10, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    Persuasive piece but at the end of the day Mukul is acting asl a BCCI spokesperson, albeit a refined one and not of the Lalit Modi genre. However, Mukul's back-handed swipe at our only gold-medallist, Abhinav Bindra,is in poor taste.

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | August 10, 2009, 11:04 GMT

    I am absolutely shocked to see comments by some readers that cricket does not need Drug testing at all. That is just absurd.

    I am quite sure that Mr. Kesavan, BCCI and Team India all agree that drug testing is required. THe only difference of opinion is about the "whereabouts" clause.

    It is nice to see the Indian Sports Minister has urged the players to sign up to WADA's program. The Olympics would be a great platform to display the game. Wouldn't it be great to have your team become Olympic Champions. It would be very disappointing not to have a chance of seeing that happen.

  • POSTED BY Gilly67 on | August 10, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    Interesting. However tempting it is to attack the stance of the BCCI since they clearly believe they are beyond answering to anyone, there is validity to their position. I don't agree with any of those who post here saying drugs would be of no benefit to a cricketer. Clearly being stronger, faster, possessing more stamina and having faster reaction times is a huge benefit to a cricketer. That drugs are a part of cricket is not the issue here. The issue here is the draconian approach of WADA. As much as I have no respect for the BCCI and their manipulation of world cricket, I do agree with their current stance. This is one time where they are using their power for good. NB: The only reason countries like Australia have signed up to the policy is much of the sport below national level relies on government funding. This would disappear if the ACB refused to sign the WADA charter. Who cares about the Olympics anyway?

  • POSTED BY nymt2 on | August 10, 2009, 10:43 GMT

    what a biased article. The people who play sports, earn million from spectator's pockets, don't even care that it should be clean and pure. If some other player uses drugs and makes his way into team for a player who opposed WADA rules, then what will happen??? Funny isn't it. Why people are demeaning cricket saying it hasn't got so much of activity as other sports, so now cricketers themselves are demeaning it for their own sake. If Golf and Shooting players have no problem, then it means no one should. BTW WADA is not jealous that sportsmen are earning billions so lets spoil their private life, they have a scientific process, and by speculating 8 hours slot in case of invention of new drugs, is very lame and stupid.

  • POSTED BY nubes on | August 10, 2009, 10:41 GMT

    The BCCI and Indian Cricketers' behaviour towards the WADA code seems quite reasonable to me. I'm not against the testing but strongly oppose three months plan in advance which is apparently kind of invasion to the palyers' personal life. Unlike other sports cricket playing countries engage playing among them series of matches for weeks or sometimes for months. therefore it seems to be an easy task for wada to carry their random testing during the events. for the rest of the times off cricket more sophisticated measures should be invented to keep the testing going on but three months' advance availability to be tested is completely un acceptable especially when someone is off to holiday or with family members. We don't want to see peoples' lives and right to secracy invaded institutionally in the 21 Centuty. Bravo BCCI, bravo MS Dhoni and co for this brave protest...

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | August 10, 2009, 10:38 GMT

    Very well argued by Mukul! While the WADA rule is quite water proof it's rather draconian as well and should be discussed more vigorously before it's accepted (the board's made the mistake of signing it before reading the fine print). How real is the security threat to a person like Sachin or Dhoni? very real. How much security threat Tiger Woods or Federer face? very less. Which is more important, security or sport? Security of course. And this hasn't been proved by Indian team but the English badminton team which withdrew from badminton world championship held at Hyderabad (and the threat is not even officially accepted). So far the best support provided to the cricketers is from RS Rathore (Olympic shooting silver medalist). "Let's look at this issue another way: We all want to rid our country of crime. As conscientious citizens, are we willing to report to the police, for instance, our location for one hour (in daylight hours) everyday for the next 90 days?"

  • POSTED BY GVimpani on | August 10, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    To suggest an Indian cricketer should be treated differently to ANY OTHER sportsman on the planet is farcical and continues to fuel the stereotype that these guys are insular and operate to double standards in the extreme. A further example is the grace in which Ponting and his team have conducted themselves during the current Ashes series. There was no talk of planes being on standby or tours being abandoned if umpires/match referees were not replaced following a spate of highly contentious and match altering poor decisions that went against them. They simply knuckled down, worked harder and got on with it. BCCI take note. The BCCI should pull these egomaniacs into line and concern themselves with the perception that these issues portray, putting the overall good of the game to the fore rather than continuing to abuse the power they clearly currently hold.

  • POSTED BY faz05 on | August 10, 2009, 9:54 GMT

    I'm somewhat surprised that people actually think drugs cannot play a part in increasing player performance in cricket. Drugs can be used to increase strength leading bowlers to bowl faster and batsmen to hit harder.

    The fact of the matter is if Indian Players have an issue with it and want to take a stand then that is great but they should be willing to live with the consequences of that decision. Or they could have simply signed the agreement after making their objections known and then carried the issue forward after that. I do think the WADA code is pretty draconian but the Indian's are going about it in a very Prima Donna-ish way.

  • POSTED BY bonaku on | August 10, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    Nice debate... and nice article. I think it is very important that wada do the drug tests for cricket as well so that we no need see the things that has happened with asif and shoib.But they should find some middle way.

  • POSTED BY HundredPercentBarcelonista on | August 10, 2009, 9:37 GMT

    If only people realised the real problem with PEDs is not confined to them enhancing the ability of players. There are long-term effects of taking these drugs and a lot of athletes don't realise how much harm they're doing to themselves by using these substances.

    As for the this article, all I can say is if you play an international sport you have to abide by international laws. It's not like Ethiopians or Cambodians have the same culture as Americans or Australians, but they've all agreed to be part of this initiative to rid sport of the evil of PEDs. Great leaders think beyond themselves and if Tendulkar & Co. want to leave a legacy I really hope it's not one that took cricket down the dark path of steroids and Olympic obscurity. But hey, why care about it when you're in the position that Indian cricketers are in. I guess that's the difference between a Tiger Woods and a Sachin Tendulkar.

  • POSTED BY vivekvj on | August 10, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    Why is it only INDIAN cricketers are causing an issue I am Indian but now think We should be banned from cricket for not meeting this requirement which is being met by all other countries and even by SOCCER players who are paid far grater than their Indian counterparts.

    I am sorry but this is anti doping! which goes beyond the sport of cricket and has to be uniform for all sports, dont the Cricketers attend pre scheduled functions that everyone knows??? think of this as the same thing but you are going for a test...

    Any cricketer should be fined for not meeting this standard including the board and banned from representing the country. I cant believe BCCI is even supporting such players who think they are above the game and sport. They need a reality check here

  • POSTED BY Almoe on | August 10, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    You're right. Cricket needs to debate this create solutions for its own problems. but the debate should go back to first principles: We, in cricket, need to decide for ourselves just what exactly is problematic about drug use in our sport. Cricket is just a game supported financially by people who love to watch it. And it is only those fans and players that cricket has to answer to, not some imaginary 'world sporting community' that only manifests itself in conferences of moralistic bureaucrats and national cricket councils that dare not challenge the public cant of the global war on doping. We need to make our own rules to deal with our own problems in our own way, and WADA's regime was designed for someone else's problem.

  • POSTED BY The Deep on | August 10, 2009, 8:23 GMT

    Good article Mukul and without the usual anti-BCCI rhetoric, I might add. Agree with you on everything except "cricket needs drug testing". No amount or type of drug can "enhance" performance to make a good cricketer into a Tendulkar or a Warne. It is a mental game more than a physical one. And if drug use allows player to recover quicker from an injury, what is wrong with that? Quick recovery from injury can hardly be called cheating. Using "hi-tech" swim suits is cheating! If however drug testing has to be performed, I believe it should be possible for any player to be available for testing any time but to pre-plan schedule on an hourly basis is a joke. For those who are arguing that it is ok, please try living a "scheduled" life. Also I fully agree with players' concern about their security. The best solution would for BCCI to maintain 24 hr contact phone for all players and pass that to WADA anytime required. Any one's privacy is important whether they earn millions or not.

  • POSTED BY AK.47 on | August 10, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    Very well researched and very funny... but at the same time quite compelling arguments. Thanks Mukul for providing a sane perspective in the madness where BCCI & Indian Cricketers find themselves against the rest of the world. No reason why we have to follow just 'coz we are in a minority and the rest of the world thinks in a particular way. As you said, we must disagree if we can. And this is one of the few global issues on which we can disagree... forcefully.

  • POSTED BY ranjithe5 on | August 10, 2009, 7:55 GMT

    you make a few assumptions here. a) sport is all play. - it is not. it is a very big profession for these guys. And if they cannot take this as part of their professional responsibilities, then they are welcome to quit and play gully cricket. b) you have to give schedules (of 1 hr a day) cast in stone to WADA - no you always have the flexibility to change it. c) the schedule will be public knowledge endangering them - no it will not be public knowledge dear Mr. Mukul

  • POSTED BY Akshat14 on | August 10, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    Why can't WADA be a little flexible regarding various games? If it clears its minds that cyclists and cricketers can't be the same, they won't take the same drugs, they can certainly come up with a better way to test players from a team game rather than individual games!

  • POSTED BY vasu_m_r on | August 10, 2009, 7:31 GMT

    It is patently ridiculous to imagine that drugs can seriously enhance a cricketer's ability and Mukul is very right in saying so. Is there any drug to improve timing or placement or even swing or spin ? Maybe pace bowlers can extend stamina but a batsman cannot take drugs to improve concentration. Let us face facts, cricket is not exactly a sport which demand extreme athletic ability. There is no reason to accept silly rules even if a majority of people have accepted it. After all even if the majority agree on a stupid idea it remains a stupid idea !!

  • POSTED BY manaskesari on | August 10, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    It is the right of the every individual to have his own privacy. The cricketers from South Asia are vulnerable to terrorist attacks as we have seen it happening in Pakistan. As BCCI rightly says that they can arrange for the players to undertake a test within 3 days of notice, is valid enough and WADA could accomodate this to any other sportsperson or team. So when WADA says others

  • POSTED BY CDave on | August 10, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    Some interesting arguments on both sides, however a couple of commments.

    We need to understand WADA's thinking behind the "whereabouts" regime. It was introduced to counter the situation WADA found in athletics & cycling where some of the world's most famous athletes & road riders would simply disappear for months at a time and come back "performance-enhanced". Those with something to hide carried a second mobile phone purely to take calls from testers. Leave a message.

    As far as cricket is concerned, there are no drugs which will help you play a forward defensive, or bowl the doosra. However where drugs can be a temptation is to help cricketers recover quicker from injury. With the increased monetary rewards now on offer in professional sports like cricket, an injured player could be tempted to accelerate their recovery with a banned substance.

    Finally, if the ICC dont sign up, we can forget cricket being admitted to the Olympics. The IOC wont even read the application

  • POSTED BY vsskk72 on | August 10, 2009, 5:56 GMT

    A well written article. A person doesn't need to be BCCI' s mouthpiece to state an opinion. If the BCCI and its players are making a lot of money, there is nothing wrong in it. Cricket is one sport that is affected most by terrorism because it is popular in the sub continent and hence needs a fresh approach. I have to state that I am a big fan of the BCCI and they are taking Indian cricket from strength to strength.

  • POSTED BY nskaile on | August 10, 2009, 5:21 GMT

    HATS OFF TO U MAN! ur the only one i seen not bashing BCCI and Indian Cricketers without even knowing anything about all this fuss!!

    and i hope Everyone Read what Aus Cricket Board said about all this. They said they back BCCI for doing this and same thing said by NZ cricket board!

  • POSTED BY Irfan_Muzammil on | August 10, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    Mukul, I'm afraid your argument is plain fallacious. It is based on the assumption that 'what if' a drug is invented which can be masked with 12 hours. And a universal testing system cannot just be planned considering regional lethargy. They are all well paid professionals, I'm sure they all have marketing and publicity managers and private security professionals. It is ludicrous to compare them with middle class indians. Merely scheduling an hour a day during their brief leisurely periods is not too high a price to pay for the well being of the sport they claim to love.

  • POSTED BY chandau on | August 10, 2009, 4:42 GMT

    A reminder to WADA. Sri Lanka V Pakistan, 3rd Test Lahore. We almost lost our national cricket team because everyone new the "schedule". Do not confuse team games with individual sports. Nowadays cricket is played 10 months of the year - look at the tour and tournament calendar. There is a saying "if the mountain doesn't come to Adam, Adam must go to the mountain" so why not increase WADA staff and send them all over the world where cricket is played be it Tests, Grade A or schools. If WADA is drug testing- police, act like a police force. some people commenting here seem to have problem with the monies earned by cricketers. Point one: they earn much less than individual sportsmen and women still. Point two: dont think of drug testing as a punishment for earning big money. they work hard for it, much harder than wheeler-dealer businessmen or politicians and other of such ilk. so do not envy them and make drug test a kind of pay back.

  • POSTED BY dyogesh on | August 10, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Hats off to you for replying to Jayaditya and many others who have been just venting out their various frustrations against BCCI. BCCI has just asked WADA to find the middle-path and WADA is just being adamant to not find one. They just want to show who is the boss and thats a game nobody can beat BCCI. And 570 sporting bodies have signed not because of choice but by force. And there is no talk about administratively ineffecient sportsmen ? Even Anju George who supported the rule said that she missed the tests twice and managed to be there the third time. And i imagine that she wouldn't have half the endorsement and outside engagements as Sachin or Dhoni ? Wouldn't it be just ridiculous that Dhoni is suspended because he couldn't update his schedule in time and missed 3 tests in 18 months ? All players associations have made clear that they have signed because they have to not because they want to. They support BCCI's stand and would be very happy if this ensures changes to WADA law.

  • POSTED BY Mahooch on | August 10, 2009, 4:35 GMT

    If you have nothing to hide, why worry about it? If FIFA can find common ground, then the BCCI can too. Arguably Christiano Ronaldo, Federer, Woods and others make more money, and are more famous than the BCCI cricketers.

  • POSTED BY Kattadurai on | August 10, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    Finally Sanity prevails with anti-doping tests. It seems to me that most of the criticisms about the BCCI's stand in this issue comes from people who couldn't digest the importance cricket has achieved in the subcontinent. Its time for these people to realize that Cricket is a team sport and it does not need a day to day testing during non-playing days. Do they really understand Tiger woods is seen just as Mr.Woods outside the green, where as Sachin is always treated as the cricketing god inside or outside the field? Their security cannot be fiddled around just for the sake of stupidity called drug testing during off-season.

  • POSTED BY mkesavan on | August 10, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    SayAsItIs, the bit about Indians not being good at timetables is comic relief. It isn't the main point. The real issue is whether Wada's new scheme isn't an example of the best being an enemy of the good.

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | August 10, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    I believe that around 570 sports boards across the world have signed up to WADA's regulations.

    I am certain that the Indian team is drug-free but you just feel cricket has been taken hostage. Money goes a long way, doesn't it? And biased opinions do too.

  • POSTED BY statshank on | August 10, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    The article by MK makes interesting reading. It almost reads like a mouthpiece for the BCCI and cricketers or rather he has been paid handsomely to wax eloquence on the rather brazen and disapointing unprofessional behaviour by our cricketers and the mandarins. This is one instance where you love goverment to intervene in India.

    Since this challenge was known in 2007 and the stance of WADA, why did BCCI take so long to react?

    Mr. Guha, the man with the diaorhea of words has been conspciously silent. It will be interesting to know his views

  • POSTED BY Zynxed on | August 10, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Mukul,

    Well written and an alternative perspective to a lively current debate. While a lots of commentators seem to a bit coloured by the fact that Indian cricketers make lots of money and are pampered brats, I feel some of their concerns are valid. Not many cricketers/sportsmen are going to be targets for terrorist as sportsmen from the subcontinent are. (ie lahore attacks), a tendulkar's personal security requirements are completely different to that of a rafael nadal or tiger woods though they may be bigger sportsmen. The moot point as the cricketers repeatedly say is they are not against the tests as such. Its a modification to the clause. May be if the WADA summoned the cricketers in 3 days notice to appear at a place, the cricketers would, instead of the we would be there anyday anytime clause. And you cant get the drugs out of the system in 3 days notice. In some ways, all we think of the money they make (its also called jealousy) and forget that they are normal human beings/

  • POSTED BY SayAsItIs on | August 10, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    Excellent argument! I applaud you for laying down the case agaisnt the Draconian WADA code as clearly as it can. It is a ridiculous western invent that they are trying to impose on thirdworld countries, because probably more than 75% of the drug culprits are from develooped western countries! Hats off to BCCI for standing up to them!! May I also add that it is an eastern thing that we dont plan things ahead as robots, and we should not allow this "western code" to destroy that livelihood.

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  • POSTED BY SayAsItIs on | August 10, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    Excellent argument! I applaud you for laying down the case agaisnt the Draconian WADA code as clearly as it can. It is a ridiculous western invent that they are trying to impose on thirdworld countries, because probably more than 75% of the drug culprits are from develooped western countries! Hats off to BCCI for standing up to them!! May I also add that it is an eastern thing that we dont plan things ahead as robots, and we should not allow this "western code" to destroy that livelihood.

  • POSTED BY Zynxed on | August 10, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Mukul,

    Well written and an alternative perspective to a lively current debate. While a lots of commentators seem to a bit coloured by the fact that Indian cricketers make lots of money and are pampered brats, I feel some of their concerns are valid. Not many cricketers/sportsmen are going to be targets for terrorist as sportsmen from the subcontinent are. (ie lahore attacks), a tendulkar's personal security requirements are completely different to that of a rafael nadal or tiger woods though they may be bigger sportsmen. The moot point as the cricketers repeatedly say is they are not against the tests as such. Its a modification to the clause. May be if the WADA summoned the cricketers in 3 days notice to appear at a place, the cricketers would, instead of the we would be there anyday anytime clause. And you cant get the drugs out of the system in 3 days notice. In some ways, all we think of the money they make (its also called jealousy) and forget that they are normal human beings/

  • POSTED BY statshank on | August 10, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    The article by MK makes interesting reading. It almost reads like a mouthpiece for the BCCI and cricketers or rather he has been paid handsomely to wax eloquence on the rather brazen and disapointing unprofessional behaviour by our cricketers and the mandarins. This is one instance where you love goverment to intervene in India.

    Since this challenge was known in 2007 and the stance of WADA, why did BCCI take so long to react?

    Mr. Guha, the man with the diaorhea of words has been conspciously silent. It will be interesting to know his views

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | August 10, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    I believe that around 570 sports boards across the world have signed up to WADA's regulations.

    I am certain that the Indian team is drug-free but you just feel cricket has been taken hostage. Money goes a long way, doesn't it? And biased opinions do too.

  • POSTED BY mkesavan on | August 10, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    SayAsItIs, the bit about Indians not being good at timetables is comic relief. It isn't the main point. The real issue is whether Wada's new scheme isn't an example of the best being an enemy of the good.

  • POSTED BY Kattadurai on | August 10, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    Finally Sanity prevails with anti-doping tests. It seems to me that most of the criticisms about the BCCI's stand in this issue comes from people who couldn't digest the importance cricket has achieved in the subcontinent. Its time for these people to realize that Cricket is a team sport and it does not need a day to day testing during non-playing days. Do they really understand Tiger woods is seen just as Mr.Woods outside the green, where as Sachin is always treated as the cricketing god inside or outside the field? Their security cannot be fiddled around just for the sake of stupidity called drug testing during off-season.

  • POSTED BY Mahooch on | August 10, 2009, 4:35 GMT

    If you have nothing to hide, why worry about it? If FIFA can find common ground, then the BCCI can too. Arguably Christiano Ronaldo, Federer, Woods and others make more money, and are more famous than the BCCI cricketers.

  • POSTED BY dyogesh on | August 10, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Hats off to you for replying to Jayaditya and many others who have been just venting out their various frustrations against BCCI. BCCI has just asked WADA to find the middle-path and WADA is just being adamant to not find one. They just want to show who is the boss and thats a game nobody can beat BCCI. And 570 sporting bodies have signed not because of choice but by force. And there is no talk about administratively ineffecient sportsmen ? Even Anju George who supported the rule said that she missed the tests twice and managed to be there the third time. And i imagine that she wouldn't have half the endorsement and outside engagements as Sachin or Dhoni ? Wouldn't it be just ridiculous that Dhoni is suspended because he couldn't update his schedule in time and missed 3 tests in 18 months ? All players associations have made clear that they have signed because they have to not because they want to. They support BCCI's stand and would be very happy if this ensures changes to WADA law.

  • POSTED BY chandau on | August 10, 2009, 4:42 GMT

    A reminder to WADA. Sri Lanka V Pakistan, 3rd Test Lahore. We almost lost our national cricket team because everyone new the "schedule". Do not confuse team games with individual sports. Nowadays cricket is played 10 months of the year - look at the tour and tournament calendar. There is a saying "if the mountain doesn't come to Adam, Adam must go to the mountain" so why not increase WADA staff and send them all over the world where cricket is played be it Tests, Grade A or schools. If WADA is drug testing- police, act like a police force. some people commenting here seem to have problem with the monies earned by cricketers. Point one: they earn much less than individual sportsmen and women still. Point two: dont think of drug testing as a punishment for earning big money. they work hard for it, much harder than wheeler-dealer businessmen or politicians and other of such ilk. so do not envy them and make drug test a kind of pay back.

  • POSTED BY Irfan_Muzammil on | August 10, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    Mukul, I'm afraid your argument is plain fallacious. It is based on the assumption that 'what if' a drug is invented which can be masked with 12 hours. And a universal testing system cannot just be planned considering regional lethargy. They are all well paid professionals, I'm sure they all have marketing and publicity managers and private security professionals. It is ludicrous to compare them with middle class indians. Merely scheduling an hour a day during their brief leisurely periods is not too high a price to pay for the well being of the sport they claim to love.