“Cricketers test positive.” The ‘breaking news’ story suggests that there could be a dope ‘positive’ case for the first time in Indian cricket.
But there is none. Indian player Rahul Sharma and South African Wayne Parnell had tested positive for recreational drugs among a total of 90 at a ‘rave party’ in Mumbai, the police said on Friday.
They were charged under the relevant Act and the law would take its course. But this is not a case of doping as we understand in sports. This is a social issue and matter for the police to proceed against as per the laws of the land, not the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.
“I don’t know why everyone is in a mood to execute Rahul Sharma without even going into the details,” BCCI president N. Srinivasan was quoted as saying on Friday.
The Board is unlikely to recall the Punjab player, now in Sri Lanka as part of the Indian squad, according to BCCI sources.
Purely from a cricketing anti-doping angle, Sharma has not committed an offence, nor will the Board come into the picture to act on a ‘positive’ report. It would be up to the Board to treat this as a general disciplinary issue.
Recreational drugs are banned in sports also. There continues a raging debate in international sports on whether substances like cannabis should be banned at all or such cases dealt with by just admonitions or rehabilitation opportunities, instead of suspensions. There is no evidence of these drugs enhancing performance.
Narcotics (e.g. morphine, hydromorphone, pethidine) and cannabinoids (e.g. cannabis, hashish, marijuana) are in the WADA Prohibited List. They are banned only ‘in competition’, meaning tests for such substances are done only when urine samples are collected during a competition.
Sharma and Parnell were members of the Pune team in the last IPL tournament. From an anti-doping perspective, they had finished their engagements. The ‘in-competition’ rule was not applicable to them.
Only a test conducted by an anti-doping authority can be of relevance. Most importantly, only a test conducted at an accredited laboratory can be the basis for any possible action by the Board or any anti-doping authority.