×

We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Cricket

Doping an increasing risk in monied T20 game

14 January 2018 - 00:00 By The Daily Telegraph

US economist Gary Becker was late for an appointment, so he parked on the street illegally, calculating that the low chance of being caught was worth the risk. He did not get a ticket and declared that "criminal behaviour is rational" - those who break laws weigh up the risks against the rewards.
Now consider cricket. Just as for other athletes, to cricketers doping might seem not reckless or irresponsible but rational. The rewards can be astronomical, and, for many cricketers, the risks appear minute.
These fears are driven by Twenty20.Already, there are hints of cricket opening up to a heightened risk of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2017 two leading T20 players were banned for doping.
Andre Russell, an effervescent all-rounder who had a claim to being the world's most valuable T20 player, failed to file his whereabouts with doping officials three times in a year. Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad, at the time ranked the seventh-best T20 batsman in the world, tested positive for the banned substance, clenbuterol, in an out-of-competition test.
And this week it was revealed India's Yusuf Pathan had failed a drugs test during a domestic T20 competition last year. His urine sample contained the banned substance terbutaline - which, like clenbuterol, can increase strength and power.
"T20, being more athletic and dynamic, places increased demands on cricketers' bodies and power outputs," says Andrea Petroczi, a specialist in doping from Kingston University in London. "This makes the sport more prone to drugs that promote muscle development and increase muscle mass - anabolic steroids and other agents."Cricketers' increased professionalism has also made the sport more vulnerable. Until a few years ago, few players trained intensely enough to benefit from steroids.
While batsmen are the most obvious beneficiaries of doping, it could help bowlers attain new speeds. Steroids can also help players recover more quickly from injury, allowing them to play in more T20 leagues and even extend their careers.
Policing of the sport has not kept pace. The ICC is aware of the challenge to protect the integrity of cricket: it conducted 547 drug tests in 2016 and introduced blood testing from the Champions Trophy last year. Yet, as in many other areas, the ICC's powers are limited. It is restricted to testing current international players - so excludes many of the freelance T20 players who are among the world's best-paid cricketers.
Those who do not play international cricket can still face drug testing: from their national and regional anti-doping agencies, their home boards and T20 leagues. Yet there is no standardised testing in T20.
Even in both cricket's high-profile doping cases last year it is dubious how great the punishment actually was. Russell played on for another 11 months after missing three drugs tests in 2015 - a period in which he helped the West Indies win the World Twenty20 and earned about $1-million (about R12-million) in T20 leagues - before his suspension, and has already got a contract with Kolkata Knight Riders for the 2018 IPL season...

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.