He was twice caught up in swirling fixing scandals around him, the last one a few months ago spoiling his farewell from a game he graced. Thus, the angst was unmistakable in Rahul Dravid’s voice.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-organised seminar on “Ethics and integrity in sports – need for a law and role of CBI” discussed corruption in sport and the vast betting syndicates in Asia and Gulf region in particular. But the focus was on the crisis in cricket and the man who has taken on the role of elder statesman since his retirement.
The former India skipper effectively told the BCCI that it had been wrong all along in opposing the whereabouts clause of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that requires players to give information, in confidence, to let doping inspectors make surprise checks.
Though cricket is still not considered a “high risk” game in terms of doping, the BCCI has opposed the clause on grounds that the information could fall into wrong hands and player security could be compromised.
“Sportsmen have to realise that whereabouts clause… I will be signing up straightaway. Sportsmen should not be given a choice, I would say.” Strong words indeed, considering Dravid had not voiced his opinion when the BCCI repeatedly opposed the clause. But Dravid felt it was important to deal with corruption in the game.
The Rajasthan Royals skipper, who soldiered on despite the spot-fixing scandal exploding within his team, was not against legalising betting if it could curb the menace. “To my mind, the question is no longer whether the law must intervene, but it is how, to what extent and on what issues.”
He felt seeds of dishonesty are sowed when youngsters are encouraged to fudge their age for selection. Despite the suspensions handed out by the BCCI to players, Dravid was in no doubt that only effective criminal law can deter players from fixing.
“Today, we stand at the crossroads in the regulation of sports integrity. Sport, the modern day battle between nations, is at risk of losing its moral compass.” Dravid said the four integrity issues in Indian sport that required legal intervention were “age fraud, doping, deliberate under-performing and player involvement in the betting industry”.
“Honest and good sportsmen have to be protected. So there must be consequence of their action. I was reading Tyler Hamilton’s (banned US cyclist) book where he says the biggest fear is being caught by the police on the border (with performance-enhancing drugs)…people have to see jail at the end of the day.”