Storm in a bottle



For some time now WADA has been a cause of serious arguments in India. People from Mumbai swore that the wada (sometimes vada) was the greatest culinary invention. Potato, spices, batter fried, what was not to like? Sandwiched in bread the wada-pav was reportedly the McDonalds of India, the perfect cheap snack that would fill the stomachs of lakhs every day. The rest of India politely disagreed and never could understand what the fuss was all about.

The humble WADA has now moved over and the overzealous World Anti Doping Agency has crept into the vocabularies of a cricket loving nation. India’s leading lights cite the constitution, talk of security threats from terrorists and basically just will not abide by a clause that requires them to confidentially file their whereabouts for an hour each day, in thirty-day blocks, in advance.

But what exactly is the problem? Sportsmen around the world have signed on and although they complain about the tediousness of the exercise all just grit their teeth and get on with it. Just when the International Cricket Council thought they were doing the decent thing, adopting a globally accepted norm, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said “thanks, but no thanks.”

Just why does the BCCI have to get involved? Why do they have to roadblock pretty much anything the ICC comes up with, and to add insult to injury then call the apex governing body toothless? It’s a bit like asking why Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt Everest. Simply because it was there to be done and he could do it.

Can India’s players really be complaining about having to pee in a bottle when WADA’s marshals come calling? And even so, since when does the BCCI back the players when they want something? Usually when the board gets its hands dirty there’s either money or power involved. In this case there are no millions to be made, but certainly there’s power to be lost.

Once an agency like WADA gets involved, it has unlimited access to the players. If they don’t like being tested, out of competition, the players will have to recourse to appeal. At that point of time the (usually) all-powerful Working Committee of the BCCI won’t have a say. There will be no avenue through which the matter could be escalated with threats of boycotts and withdrawals, cancelled contracts and million-dollar deals being undone. Basically, there will be at least one aspect of the sport in which the BCCI, used to getting its way even when it’s in the wrong, simply does not lord it over everyone else.

So there you have it, the players don’t want their privacy infringed, the board does not want to lose absolute control of their biggest asset, the superstars, and WADA is told to take a hike and everyone is happy.

Not quite.

When the globalisation of the game moves away from getting Papua New Guineans to bowl googlies and teaching Chinese how not to play the Chinese (also called Surrey) cut, to a genuinely international initiative – the Olympic movement, cricket will be left in the cold. When the realisation sinks in that India’s reluctance to be WADA compliant, and the ICC’s inability to force them to do so, cost the game a chance to be a part of the Olympic movement, people will get upset. At the moment India’s non-compliance seems like a victimless crime, which explains why so many powerful people in cricket are silent on the issue. Like the very route of this row, ignorance is carrying the day. That state, however, is unlikely to last forever.

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