It’s easy to understand the concerns of both players and administrators as the ICC seeks to iron out the wrinkles in its recently adopted comprehensive drug testing policy. The players are worried about an invasion of privacy. The ICC don’t want to be seen as an administrative body that went soft on the players.
In a recent interview ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat made a crucial point; “We hope to ensure that our sport remains fair and clean.”
If cricketers want to better understand why this is critical they only have to study what a damaging effect performance enhancing drugs (Peds) have had on Major League Baseball in America. Baseball’s failure to implement a drug testing policy until the middle of this decade is having a disastrous on-going effect on the way players of recent vintage are perceived.
What happened in baseball in an era of non-testing was an escalation in the use of Peds. Now that some of the top-notch players are being “outed” they are considered by many to only be deserving of entering the hall of shame.
The result is an era of dubious records and suspicion of every player who suddenly had a break out season or “bulked up”.
My gut feeling is cricket doesn’t have a problem anything like the magnitude of baseball. Nevertheless, it would be naïve to think cricket players were absolutely clean.
If cricket shied away from a tough drug testing regime, there’s no guarantee doping wouldn’t escalate. It’s easy to see why the ICC wants a random and year-round drug-testing regime.
There’s a major imbalance in players’ earnings. If doping did escalate, higher paid performers would have access to more sophisticated drugs.
The risk would be a widening in the competitive gap between the haves and the have-nots. The players using the cheaper drugs would also run a far greater risk of being caught out by testing.
The ICC is trying to address this concern, as I’m sure are all sports involved in the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) testing regime. However, in the end, it may be that this is the price the players have to pay for a strong testing regime that ensures “the sport remains fair and clean.”
While it may be an inconvenience at the time, in the years to come the players will be grateful.
If a tough testing regime ensures the public isn’t questioning the integrity of players whose records feature more asterisks than an ancient honour roll, then it will have been a price worth paying.