The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy will be the start of a new anti-doping regimen in cricket as blood samples will be drawn from players to test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Cricketers are already required to provide urine samples in accordance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines, but the Champions Trophy set to take place in England and Wales this June will be the first time players will also have to provide blood samples to improve the testing process.
Indian players were briefed on the matter by an ICC anti-doping team during the team’s stay in Pune for the first ODI between India and England.
Reportedly, the players were apprehensive about blood being drawn but agreed when it was explained that blood testing would help eradicate the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs, like it does in other sports.
“Cricket has been WADA compliant since 2006 but our players still only undergo in-competition random tests, where their urine samples are collected. But there are a lot of performance enhancing drugs and steroids in circulation out there which aren’t visible in urine samples but will show up in your blood. Blood-testing is part of what WADA terms ‘smart testing’,” an unnamed source was quoted as saying in an Indian Express report.
Drawing blood samples will be the first step in the process WADA has termed as smart testing.
Henceforth, an ‘athlete biological passport’ will be maintained for every cricketer just as it is done for sportspersons the world over.
For the biological passport to be created, blood samples will be preserved for 10 years after being drawn and every cricketer will be required to provide a sample every six months. Testing will be done across samples to check for any abnormalities or variations.
Additionally, WADA’s smart testing of blood samples also requires sport-specific profiling. In the case of cricket, testing for growth hormones will also be initiated to supplement testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
Possibilities with Twenty20
Since cricket is a skill-based sport, there was little fear of abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in the past.
However, since the emergence of the T20 variation of the sport, which is highly dependent on success through strength and power hitting, it is feared that doping and steroid use may become an issue in the future if it isn’t already happening.
Since 2003, urine samples have been effective in weeding out a single case of doping in India — Pradeep Sangwan tested positive for banned substances in a random test conducted during the 2013 IPL season.