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Caught out by his own slips

For a fellow who once boasted more chins than the Beijing telephone directory, Shane Warne is pretty fussy about what goes into his mouth these days.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2003 01:58 IST

For a fellow who once boasted more chins than the Beijing telephone directory, Shane Warne is pretty fussy about what goes into his mouth these days. You don't lose two or three stone, as he has managed over the course of the past year, by switching to VB Lite and putting cottage cheese on your burger. It's lettuce and white wine and cut the skin off the chicken.

So it beggars belief that his dear old mum, bless her, gave him, an elite athlete bound by the drug dictates of the International Olympic Committee, a diuretic pill -- just the one, mind -- and said there you are son, just pop that in your mouth, you'll piss yourself inside out but never mind there will be another couple of kgs off the scales, and without even so much as a glance in the pharmacopoeia he did so.

Warne may have tried to explain away this indiscretion as an unwitting breach of the drug codes but isn't there a smell of rodent about all this? Something, as Colombo might say, doesn't stack up.

Consider this: one-day international cricket is intense, high-octane stuff and, in hot climates, unpleasant to play at times. So why would anyone with sufficient brain cells to elevate himself above the level of an amoeba want to spend the day before such a game in heatwave Melbourne dehydrating himself when others were engaged in doing quite the reverse? If this is what Warne knowingly did, then his IQ must be smaller than the size of his baggy green cap.

This is the information age. Many - and Warne would certainly be among them - have access not only to books but the internet as well. What's this, Mum? Hydrochlorothiazide? Think I'll check that out if you don't mind. Maybe phone the Australian Drugs in Sport hotline on 1800 020506. Worth a minute surely to check out amiloride - not that I don't trust you, Mother. Funnily enough we were warned at the Champions Trophy in Colombo only last September to be on our guard with the Vick and so forth what with the random dope tests the ACB has been conducting since 1998. Hate to balls up my last World Cup, eh?

There is, of course, the horrible possibility that Warne is not being entirely frank. Was it just bad luck that this random test coincided with the only time he had taken the diuretic? Or had he taken them before? If so, from whom did they come - not Mother, surely - and why was he not made aware that as well as their capacity to rid the body of fluid they may be used as a masking agent to hide the taking of steroids?

And had he known, would it even have occurred to him that January day that, in the positive drug test and his miraculous recovery in fewer than six weeks from a shoulder dislocation, there might be those willing to add the two together and arrive at something greater than four? Did vanity play a part?

One assumes that the ACB investigators will poke their noses a little further than simply at Warne. There might even be a lesson for cricket boards everywhere.

First Published: Feb 13, 2003 01:58 IST