Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dope is more harmful for cricketers: ICC

New Delhi: Cricket and tennis were thought to be the sports where performance-enhancing drugs would not work. The myth has been broken in tennis and cricket, too, has had its share of doping cases leading to the International Cricket Council (ICC) signing the re-drafted World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code in January.

There was a furore when Indian cricketers, like many of world's top athletes rejected WADA's whereabout clause. But, David McDonagh, a member of ICC's anti-doping tribunal, attributes the controversy to the lack of awareness about the undesirable effects of drugs on the sportspersons.

"There is not much awareness among not only Indian cricketers, but also among players in general," McDonagh, here to attend an international congress on sports medicine, told IANS.

"Cricketers need to be educated on doping, they don't need to dope. Good thing is that we hardly had any doping cases coming to the ICC."

"If you increase your bulk, you run the risk of tearing your tendons. Doping is not a long-term solution for cricketers. Fast bowling is one of the most toughest aspects of cricket and you will only be prone to more injuries if you are on drugs," said the Irishman.

Asked whether WADA would drop the whereabouts clause in view of the opposition from top sportspersons, McDonagh would only hint that to catch cheats all sorts of methods need to be used.

McDonagh, who has been associated with various international federations as well as the Olympic movement, agrees that the whereabouts clause is "harsh" on the players, but in the same breath said: "Random testing is the unfortunate price we have to pay for doping. We all have the responsibility to clean up sport and this is where WADA comes in. The registration and whereabouts clause is hard on the athletes, one cannot take chances if sport has to be dope-free."

The testing process today is far more advanced and tighter than it was in 1997, when Andre Agassi took banned substance crystal meth and and got away lying. The honest revelation of eight-time Grand Slam winner in his autobiography 'Open' has shocked the tennis world.

Asked whether Agassi would have been caught had he committed the offence today, McDonagh said: "You never know. We now have a far stricter testing methods."

"In the 90s the drugs control was only at the Olympics and not at other events. The effect of WADA influence was felt only recently. The level of testing now is far more superior. The tests are widespread now, but dope, too, has found newer methods."

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