Saturday, August 15, 2009

Come Clean

Open recently carried a well-written story on the recent controversy surrounding Indian cricketers' refusal to accept the whereabouts clause of Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency). Various others sports like Tennis, football, cycling and so on have confirmed to Wada rules. The International Cricket Council (ICC) too has subscribed to its norms, but the Board of Cricket Council of India (BCCI) and Indian cricketers are resisting. That they claim to abide by the Wada rules, except the whereabouts clause- which states that every cricketer, at the start of every quarter must inform their whereabouts of one hour every day for the next three months so that they are available for ant-dope test- is hardly giving away much. Some cricketers have also gone to the extent to claim that cricket has to be treated differently than other sports because cricketers have to travel much and are hardly at home for a few days here or there. Hence their privacy must be respected.

Privacy of celebrities is always a concern and an issue. It's quite right on the part of celebrities to claim that even they have a right to privacy and the cameras- or in this case, a doping control officer with an empty bottle to collect the urine sample- should be limited to the hours they are on duty. But once on family time, no intruders should be allowed. After all, if current world no 3 tennis player Andy Murray claims that he had to pee with his pants down literally in front of the DCO to ensure the genuineness of the sample deposited at 7 am in a morning in his home where the DCO turned up unexpected, then what are we talking about? Have they no lives of their own or any dignity?

Much as we like to sympathise with our sporting idols, the answer is a resounding No. Well, dignity, yes, but privacy, no. When drug abuse is so rampant across the world and where numerous examples have come up in sports that performance-enhancing drugs are available and can be consumed, it is the duty of every sportsperson to declare himself / herself clean. And if this means peeing with your pants down in front of someone to prove yourself, then so be it. In times when sportsperson having to stand to earn millions of dollars every year, this is a small sacrifice. Sports is a discipline. It's not just about fun and games. Sportsmen are idols to millions and billions of people around the globe. It not only teaches you how to play, but also inspires discipline, grit and courage. When Steffi Graf wins the French Open beating the then-world no 1 player half her age to win the French Open, in her early 30s or when Roger Federer wins the the one grand slam that has painfully eluded him for years, despite going through the worse 12 months of his career prior to this and when almost everyone had written him off inspire people to never give up. But when these stars resort to doping and are caught, it tarnishes the name of sport. We somehow begin to ponder of others' successes too; doubts start to creep our mind. It is this larger picture that our cricketers seem to miss.

Cricketers find all the time to squeeze numerous advertisements and commercials into their busy schedule; one that has made a millionaire virtually out of everyone of them who are the most active. They may be idols in India, but to the world of sport, they are as common as any other sportsperson. And as far as their exhaustive schedule is concerned, if tennis starts in the first week of January and goes up well till November-end (add to that the Davis Cup final in December for the two nations that have to fight it out), then other sports are no less hectic than Cricket. Why should Cricket therefore get special treatment? If they want their sport to be squeaky clean, then cricketers should be prepared to unzip whenever the DCO comes knocking on their doors.

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