WADA chief praises cricket for its role in the fight against drugs in sport

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) David Howman has said he is encouraged by the recent strides cricket has made to ensure the sport is free of the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs.

Speaking at a WADA symposium held for the world’s sports media in Lausanne, Switzerland this week, Mr Howman said that the ICC was responsible for uniting the cricket world against drugs across a large number of diverse territories.

“We are substantially encouraged and I think the progress that has been made, even in the last four or five months has been significant,” said Mr Howman.

“The ICC has done a huge amount in this area, both from a leadership point of view in becoming code compliant and in terms of bringing in some of the countries that we know are pretty difficult to run anti-doping programmes in.

“If you put all that together, that is great progress and we have worked together with some people who have been responsible for that and we are heartened by their commitment,” he said.

A firmer and more practical anti-doping code was recently implemented by the ICC as cricket continues the fight to ensure the sport is free of banned substances.

The code, which came into effect on 1 January 2009, was recently unanimously approved by all members of the ICC Board, indicating the overwhelming level of support the code has within the ICC membership.

The adoption of this strengthened ICC Anti-Doping Code coincided with the amendment of the WADA Code, making sure that cricket plays its part in the global fight against drugs in sport.

Consistent with the WADA Code, the new ICC Anti-Doping Code gives more flexibility to any hearing panel appointed by the ICC in terms of the sanctions and penalties that may be imposed against players who test positive for a banned substance.

But although Mr Howman praised the ICC for its work done so far, he warned that the sporting community in general can never drop its guard in the war against the drug cheats.

“I think we win a lot of battles and the more battles you win the closer you are to winning the war,” he said. “(But) in every aspect of society you are going to find a few cheats. We find them in the legal profession or journalistic profession and so on. There are much fewer drug cheats in sport now than 10 years ago.”

The ICC became a signatory of WADA in July 2006 and has been testing at its events since 2002. In that time, there has not been a positive test at an ICC event.

The ICC has also recently circulated a template anti-doping code for all of its Members to adopt in order to help them to govern anti-doping matters at a domestic level in a consistent and WADA Code-compliant manner.

The ICC has been meeting with players to explain the details of the code as it relates to them. So far, an ICC representative has briefed the Pakistan and Sri Lanka teams on the additional responsibilities for those players selected in the International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) as per the requirements of the code.

And within the next two months, the ICC expects to arrange face-to-face training for all of those players selected in the IRTP. Thereafter, it will make additional training, education, materials and guidance available to all Members and players requiring further assistance, including having a presence at the ICC World Twenty20 in June 2009.

While it remains the responsibility of all Members to brief their players on the ICC Anti-Doping Code (2009), ICC staff will also be available to talk through the key changes in the code to any team taking part in next month’s ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 in Australia and April’s ICC World Cup Qualifier in South Africa.

In line with the provisions of the code, the ICC will establish a doping hearing panel from which three people will be selected to sit as an anti-doping tribunal from time to time in order to determine whether an anti-doping rule violation has been committed.