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Sport  


 

Why blame only the player?

The case of Upul Tharanga brings to the attention the dangers involved with sports and drugs. The Sri Lankan opener has been handed a three-month suspension from all cricket and cricket-related activities by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for failing a drugs test during the 2011 World Cup.
Tharanga is somewhat lucky that the ICC accepted his statement that the offence was not deliberate and thereby his suspension was back-dated to begin on May 9, 2011 which allows him to be eligible for selection from August 9 which means that he will be available to play against Australia when they tour Sri Lanka during that month.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said, “We recognise that Upul has not been found guilty of deliberately cheating, but the ICC maintains its zero-tolerance approach towards doping for the benefit of all its stakeholders. Cases like this serve as a reminder to all players that they must take great care and personal responsibility at all times for the substances that they consume.”
Why the ICC has taken this stance is to warn the rest of the cricketers around the world that it would always adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards doping however much they are found to be innocent of any wrong-doings.

In Tharanga’s case the only mistake he made is failing to inform the relative authorities that he was being treated with a medicine that contained banned drugs Prednisone and Prednisolone, which are ‘Specified Substances’ under WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Agency) prohibited list and are banned from being used in-competition. Tharanga had taken the medicine – an herbal remedy given to him for a long standing shoulder injury.

The Anti-Doping rules clearly state that the player himself is responsible for his actions. The law reads:
ARTICLE 2 ANTI-DOPING RULE VIOLATIONS
“Doping is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following anti-doping rule violations:
2.1 The presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in a Player’s Sample.
2.1.1 It is each Player’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his/her body. A Player is responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in his/her Sample. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing use on the Player’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping violation under Article 2.1; nor is the Player’s lack of intent, fault, negligence or knowledge a defence to a charge that an anti-doping rule violation has been committed under Article 2.1.
2.2 Use or attempted use by a Player of a Prohibited Substance or a Prohibited Method, unless the Player establishes that such use or attempted use is consistent with a therapeutic use exemption granted in accordance with Article 4.4.
2.2.1 It is each Player’s personal duty to ensure that he/she does not use any Prohibited Substance. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing use on the Player’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping violation of use under Article 2.2; nor is the Player’s lack of intent, fault, negligence or knowledge a defence to a charge that an anti-doping rule violation of Use has been committed under Article 2.2.”
Tharanga is not alone in this sad episode. Sri Lanka boxer Manju Wanniarachchi who had his Gold medal won at the Commonwealth Games stripped off, and three top class Sri Lanka rugby players Eranga Swarnatilleke, Keith Gurusinghe and Saliya Kumara have also fallen victim to the circumstances when they were tested positive during the Asian5Nations tournament and subsequently banned by the International Rugby Board (IRB).
The moot point that needs to be raised here is why it is that only the sportsman/woman should be held responsible for such actions whereas the individual who administered the medicine to him/her goes scot free without even a mention of his name.
As much as the players are responsible isn’t the individual who administers the medicine also equally responsible for his action? Seldom does anyone question the doctor who administers medicine to a player. The player is totally at the mercy of the doctor and it is the bounden duty of the doctor to ensure that he doesn’t put the player’s career in jeopardy by subscribing to him medicine which contains banned substances, unless of course the doctor himself is unaware of the medicine’s contents.
To prevent such things from happening in the future, it would be imperative that apart from the player the doctors, coaches, trainers etc. are also listed specifically so that when an incident like Tharanga’s does occur, it is not only the player in question who has to face the charges but also the person who administered the medicine are also exposed. This way the finger won’t be pointed at only one individual who has to face the embarrassment of being branded as a cheat publicly but also against the doctor or whoever is responsible for prescribing the medicine. This way the doctors should be very much aware and take precautions before prescribing any medicine to a sportsman/woman, lest their names get blacklisted.