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Cricketers getting isolated on WADA issue

  • Updated: August 4, 2009, 9:38 PM IST

New Delhi: Two days after rejecting WADA's anti-doping clause, India's top cricketers are getting increasingly isolated with star tennis players and sports medicine experts on Tuesday deploring their stance and saying there could not be separate rules for them.

After Sports Minister MS Gill opposed the BCCI stand on the clause which makes it mandatory for sportspersons to make themselves available for out-of-competition testing, the cricketers found the heat intensifying with more sportspersons and administrators criticising them.

While sports medicine experts termed the decision as "silly and absurd", India's leading tennis players Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza sought to dispel their apprehensions and asked them to sign the document.

Bhupathi and Sania stressed on the point that the WADA initiative was about weeding out drug cheats from the world of sports and both felt it was duty of every sportspersons to cooperate and contribute to create a dope-free world.

"I have been doing the 'whereabouts' this entire year. I think if the system allows for those who abuse it to be caught we should go with it," Bhupathi told PTI.

"Lots of the tennis players had apprehensions early but we are all doing it," Bhupathi said.

Echoing his view, India's first female Grand Slam title winner Sania Mirza said rules should be same for everyone.

"It would not be fair to all the other sports and sportsmen of the world to make exceptions to WADA's rules and I'm sure any doubts that the cricketers have can be sorted out amicably through consensus before they sign on the dotted line," Sania said.

Reminding that every sportsperson has a duty to support the anti-doping agency in its bid for a dope-free world, Sania said, "We all share the same goals as WADA, being a part of the world sports fraternity."
The sports medicine experts were more scathing in their criticism and said there was no justification for the BCCI and the players to reject the code which has been accepted by international sports bodies.

"It is ignorance of the WADA system which probably has led to such a decision. The BCCI and the cricketers have no idea about the rules and regulations and that is why they have created such a situation," Dr Manish Chand, the Director of Dope Control for the 2010 Commonwealth Games said.

Other sports medicines experts also ridiculed the BCCI for putting up "absolutely silly reasons" for not signing the 'whereabouts' clause which makes it mandatory for sportspersons to disclose their location three months in advance for out of competition dope tests.

While Dr P S N Chandran, a leading sports medicine expert who has been involved with the Sports Authority of India's anti-doping programme, termed the cricketers' decision as a "virtual revolt", another expert Jaspal S Sandhu said the BCCI reasoning is absurd.

"Are our cricketers bigger than so many great sportspersons the world over who have signed this code? I think it is just an issue of ignorance on part of the players," Chandran said.

Chandran said it was "surprising and strange" that the BCCI was encouraging its players to revolt against the code after having allowed the ICC to sign it.

"This is absurd. Whatever they share will remain strictly confidential and beyond the reach of people other than who are concerned with it. Where does this question of security risk come from?" said Sandhu, also the Dean, Faculty of Sports Medicine at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Wrestling Federation of India President G S Mander also criticised the cricketers and dismissed claims that sharing whereabout details in advance posed security risks.

"Security threat is for every sportspersons and cricketers are no exception. There cannot be different rules for sports bodies all over the world on one hand and for Indian cricketers on the other," he said.

However, some former cricketers supported the defiant players with Sandeep Patil and former captain Ajit Wadekar backing BCCI and ex-Test batsman Chandu Borde finding merit in the WADA code.

"If I'm in the boots of Yuvraj Singh or (MS) Dhoni I would certainly not like to be disturbed when I'm on a holiday. Like every individual, the cricketers too need to have their privacy respected," Patil said.

"It seems both have valid arguments to support their respective views. It is advisable for the anti-doping authorities to talk to the cricketers and remove whatever apprehensions they are having. They need to be convinced it's for the betterment of the game," Borde said.

The Indian cricketers on Sunday refused to sign the clause claiming it infringes on their privacy and puts their security at risk.

The BCCI backed the players at an emergency Working Committee meeting in Mumbai and asked the ICC to renegotiate the clause with WADA.

Despite its criticism, the BCCI has said it will stick to its stand on the vexed issue and the matter will now be discussed at the ICC's Executive Board meeting, the date of which is still not known.

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