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If they can, why can’t we?

If Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt can work with the World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) Code, why should India's cricketers have apprehensions? That is the big question stirring the sport at the moment.

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2009 00:57 IST
Anand Vasu

If Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt can work with the World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) Code, why should India's cricketers have apprehensions? That is the big question stirring the sport at the moment, and the answer might simply be that these players have incomplete information about what they're getting into.

Maybe some of the players' current confusion would be sorted at Sunday's emergency working committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai. It is possible that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni could attend the meeting. But first, some facts. At no stage did WADA go out of its way to take interest in cricket being dope free. Rather, it was cricket which sought accreditation to WADA.

This was necessary to stress the need to have a clean sport and avoid high-profile cases like that of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from tarnishing the sport's international image. More importantly, a movement has begun to promote T20 as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Games. T20 has already been included as a medal sport in next year's Asian Games. Without being a WADA signatory, cricket's participation in the Olympic movement is impossible.

Another fact: While several players around the world have reservations about how the WADA code will be enforced, specifically with reference to logging whereabouts details, no other cricket board has threatened not to adhere to the code. The root cause of the problem, in the case of India's cricketers, is perhaps a lack of knowledge of how this system will work.

When filing 'whereabouts' players are required to specify their location for one hour in each of the 365 days in the year. This has alarmed some players who guard their privacy very closely.

However, the ICC has, in a letter to all boards, stated that testing 'will be 'reasonable' and that the majority of the Out-of-Competition testing will be based around team and FTP (Future Tests Programme) commitments and not while players are on holiday.”

Of course, it's unclear if the Indian players who are raising objections know about this, as only two of the 11 due to be part of the IRTP (International Registered Testing Pool) even attended the IRTP education facilitated by the ICC.

In the six-step process (see box) India managed the first — getting the players to sign the IRTP forms but failed in every other step (as reported by HT on May 18). Cricket Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket were the first to finish the process.

FIFA and WADA

The ICC is aware that football's apex body is not currently WADA complaint and is closely monitoring that situation. However, WADA made it clear that FIFA would not receive any special considerations with regards to filing “whereabouts”. In any case, the ICC observed, “the FIFA proposal, even if it were deemed to be Code compliant, could not be applied to cricket because of the way in which international and domestic cricket is structured and the current state of anti-doping programmes at a domestic level.”

Confidentiality

The online system that the ICC will use to log “whereabouts” data online is the Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS). Within the ICC itself, only two staff members have access to this system. All manually submitted information is kept under lock and key. The ICC also has a dedicated confidential anti-doping fax, mobile and email address.

While member boards will have access to some of this information and will be “bound by strict confidentiality requirements” if the boards are not “in a position to preserve such information in a strictly confidential fashion, WADA will consider blocking their access to that information.”