Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Cricket's Testing Time

Dale Steyn has failed a drug test taken while he was playing in the IPL. His sample showed morphine, which it is said is a consequence of some codeine he was taking. One wouldn't say too much about it, unless an unreasonable punishment was imposed by the authorities, in the circumstances, were it not for the curious objections raised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to the World Anti-Doping Agency's testing regime.

Ostensibly, the objections are in fact the players'; the BCCI's role in all this is purely a supportive one. However, you don't have to be particularly imaginative to raise questions about whether the organization put out the word that they'd certainly like it if players made objections. From my distance, I can only speculate.

The shocking thing is that cricket is known to have at least a few issues with performance-enhancing drugs. Furthermore, the ICC signed up for this not, a few months ago, but in July 2006. Lastly, Indian cricketers are not backed by their own international union.

The stakes here are potentially huge. Cricket is currently an Olympic sport, and that means the massive Chinese market is interested in taking up the game. For the Indian players and the BCCI to stand in the way of the WADA code puts that position at risk, and reopens the door for baseball to move into a space that it vacated when it lost its position as an Olympic sport. The ICC really needs to stand its ground, even if it makes conciliatory noises in public.

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