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Board must back players

Cricketers have already more than enough on their plate to now be subjected to one more assault, this time on their right to privacy, writes Pradeep Magazine. See graphics

cricket Updated: Jul 31, 2009 00:39 IST
Pradeep Magazine

Cricketers have already more than enough on their plate to now be subjected to one more assault, this time on their right to privacy.

The new rules of the Word Anti Doping Agency (WADA) make it mandatory for players to be available for tests at all times, every hour of the day, every day of the year and need them to inform the agency about their whereabouts three months in advance. These rules have already cooked up controversy and major protests all over the world.

If you think our players are being unnecessarily petulant at feeling almost outraged by this diktat, then you have not heard reactions from some of the major international athletes and even human rights bodies on the issue.

When this rule came into effect from January this year, the reactions were one of disbelief. Rafael Nadal, who normally exhibits all his volcanic energy only on the tennis courts, called these rules as 'a disgrace' and an intolerable hunt'. US hurdler Lolo Jones went to the extent of saying: “Maybe in the future, they will find a tag they can put on us like dogs have.” One more protesting voice said: “Why not just have a GPS chip in our skin and they can just figure out where we are.”

Though the condemnation of this method of trying to control the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs has been widespread, WADA has been adamant and not caved in.

Not many may agree with IOC president Jacques Rogge's defence of this new rule that 'sports today has to pay a price for suspicion,' but the athletes so far have had no choice but to comply.

Three missed tests in an 18-month period can even result in the athlete being banned from competing in the Olympics, but cricket has to figure out what punishment should be meted out to offenders.

There are many who will argue that cricket as a sport does not require human beings to become genetic clones of super fit animals, hence the use of drugs is non-existent here. It is a game that relies more on skill, and a player spends most of his time in training to balance his body in unnatural angles to either bowl or bat effectively.

Since the International Cricket Council is now a signatory to the WADA rules, it cannot escape by giving this somewhat naïve reasoning to escape the edict.

What it could possibly have done is protested and told WADA that it can't force cricketers to be available, even if it is for one hour of the day, for these tests. Since cricket is not immune to protests and where adjusting powerful lobbies even at the expense of breaking rules is not uncommon, this draconian rule can be challenged by a cricketing body even at the peril of being sanctioned by the world Olympic body.

The Indian cricket board has been at the forefront of many such rebellions, just and unjust, within the ICC, and now they have been forced by the reactions of their own players to take one more stand. Are we going to see a major row breaking out between the Indian cricket authorities and the IOC?

For once, this is a fight not about who makes more money and who controls the game, but of letting individuals have a right to their privacy. And if India shows spunk to stand up and fight, it will have the entire international athletic fraternity behind it.