Whether it is the media, Olympians or other sports administrators, everyone loves to have a go at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Though justified in many cases, those who criticise the BCCI, ignore the fact that it is one of the better structured bodies in the country. As a result, when sports minister, Ajay Maken, took on the BCCI for not coming under the National Anti-Doping Agency's (NADA) umbrella, he was either ignorant or forgot that the BCCI more serious than the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in implementing anti-doping measures.
Even before the International Cricket Council (ICC) complied with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last year, the BCCI had started its mission to educate budding cricketers on anti-doping measures.
As a major fillip to their anti-doping wing, the BCCI, last year, hired Dr Vece Paes, a former Olympian and sports medicine expert, to chalk out and implement the educational programme. The Board conducted separate two-day workshops for junior and senior cricketers in each of their affiliated associations last year and will repeat the exercise this year. Anti-doping centres have been set up at each of the zonal academies and National Cricket Academy.
"The BCCI is committed to clean sport. We have signed the WADA code. While at the international level, where cricketers are subject to testing, there hasn't been a single positive case of an India cricketer. At the domestic level, our emphasis is on creating awareness among young cricketers," said Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI's chief administrative officer.
The BCCI has circulated a pocket handbook that details the dos and don'ts on anti-doping measures. Moreover, it has made Dr Paes and his colleagues available for all cricketers 24x7 through a helpline. "In a country like ours where hardly any sportsperson at the grass-root level is educated about these issues, the association has to play a pivotal role in informing them," said Shetty. "So, before we start testing our domestic cricketers, our emphasis is to educate them. If a youngster is prescribed medication for some injury, he can consult the experts through the helpline."
Even international cricketers, whenever they have doubts about food supplements or medication, get support through two independent testing agencies hired by the BCCI - the International Drug Testing Management from Sweden and Sports Drug Testing International from Australia.
At a time when the doping syndrome has recurred in India, it's time the other sports federations take a cue from the BCCI.