Mohammad Asif being found guilty of using an illegal substance during the inaugural Indian Premier League has yet again raised the spectre over the use of banned substances in a game once known as the gentleman’s game.
Interestingly though, medical experts do not believe that using banned substances can particularly help a cricketer boost his performance majorly in any way. “We shouldn’t forget that cricket is a game of skills where fitness plays a small but decisive role,” sports medicine expert Dr Kinjal Suratwala, who has worked with various sportspersons, including cricketers, told the Hindustan Times. “The use of such substances would likely be counter-productive in the long run.”
Mumbai Ranji Trophy team doctor Dr Deepak Kachalia agreed, saying that using drugs may help a player, but only short term. “For instance, steroids may help a player hide his injury,” he said. “But it does not heal his body, it just reduces pain. So you are carrying the injury and the possibility of aggravating it is more if a player is using steroids (as the injury is masked).”
Elaborating this view, Suratwala said: “It may help expand and strengthen muscles for a short period of time. But those who indulge in it don't realise that instead of reduction in injuries, they get more injuries by indulging in the use of drugs.”
Kachalia, though, agreed that unfortunately, some players did use illegal substances for a “speedy recovery”. But he added that education was making a difference and even Indian domestic cricketers were now “very conscious” about the medication they used. “Almost all the players have now realised that some pain killers may contain banned substances,” he said. “As a result, almost all of them try and not have any pain killer pill. They even ask us (the doctors) about the contents in the medicines that are prescribed to them and verify it with the list circulated by the ICC.”
Suratwala said it made no logical sense and there was “no need at all” for any sportsperson, especially a cricketer, to dope. “It does complete harm to your body. And it's cheating,” he said. “It's against the ethics and the laws of the game. I think it's not worth taking such a big risk for.”
Well, Asif obviously thought it was worth the risk. But for what purpose and why, the coming days will tell us.