Cricket is a game of ‘gentlemen’, agreed.
But no one has ever claimed that the game belongs only to those who maintain high standards of public morality.
If that argument is accepted, Sir Garry Sobers or Sir Vivian Richards would have retired from the game long before they could establish records.
It is futile to expect sportspersons to keep the moralistic standards expected from Popes and nuns, especially when everyone expects their sports hero to be a showman who hits
balls out of the ground, makes tons of money and attends late night parties after IPL games. Poor Rahul Sharma. What is the offence he has committed? He went to a party to have a good time. He, according to reports, is found to have consumed some recreational drug.
Recreational drugs are taken by youngsters in parties — that is the reason why they are called “party drugs”. Like every other citizen, a cricketer too has the right to go for recreation, especially when they are off from a competition.
In the case of sportspersons, drug abuse, if any, including recreational drugs, are to be dealt with by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
The ICC is a signatory to the WADA code.
Even BCCI follows the WADA code, though it has reservations on certain clauses of the code. WADA has kept recreational drugs in a separate group in the code as “specified substances”. Consuming recreational drugs is an offence only in competitions. WADA does not prohibit intake of recreational drugs out of competition.
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As such Rahul, being a sportsman, has not committed any drug offence as per the WADA code. Then why apply double standards by bringing in moral grounds in his case? Why let sportspersons who abuse drugs be dealt with by sports governing bodies, especially when a separate organisation is already there to deal with it? BCCI should not get carried away by the hue and cry given by moralists to call back Rahul from the team which is touring Sri Lanka now.
Tomorrow, the same moralists will call for banning all sportspersons who indulge in pre-marital and extra-marital affairs on the grounds of morality.
(The writer is president of the Indian Federation of Sports Medicine)