About time we stopped cribbing about cricket

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Now that the B Sample of Ashwini Akkunji & Co has also turned out positive, from an Indian perspective, the Commonwealth Games (CWG) of 2010 can be summed up by two simple words.


And shame.

Shock, because the fat cats who were in charge of organising the games (like the bearded dude on the left, above) are cooling their heels in Tihar jail for having succumbed to their natural instinct to loot the exchequer.

And shame, because some of the athletes who brought laurels to the country (like the smiling girls in the picture) have now been revealed to have artificially boosted their performance.

Only the swanky stadia, swimming pools and velodrome—and the  spit and polish that was provided to the nicer parts of Lutyen’s Delhi—stand testimony to the games. If they are still standing, that is.

The Great Indian Dope Trick past shows a deep-rooted malaise afflicting the non-cricket sports scene in our country.

The cliched question is, where have we gone wrong? The short answer is: from the very beginning.

For decades satraps have usurped powers befitting nabobs and run various sports bodies like their own fiefs with the sports ministry having little or no teeth to discipline them. More often they have colluded with officials in looting the public money, as is evident in the CWG scam.

Most athletes, till recently, didn’t have decent training facilities or equipment, either in terms of boarding and lodging or sports gear.

Who can forget the badminton coaching camp for an international event that had to be abandoned and the shuttlers sent back because they had not arranged for the shuttlecocks?

Or that some sarkari babu sat on the files and forgot to buy the bullets for our shooters?

Or the time when an athlete had to run around to get his visa stamped, make it to the airport just in time to board the flight, and stay on measly allowances, while the officials accompanying them lived in five–star comfort?

Indian politicians and officials are keener to rub shoulders with Bollywood stars during gala opening and closing ceremonies and keep themselves busy arranging free passes and souvenirs to their friends and relatives.

Recently eight, that’s right, eight hockey players were cramped in room participating in a major tournament, and this while a meeting of the Indian hockey federation was in progress to discuss the future of Indian hockey.

Cricket is often blamed for all the ills that are plaguing other sports. But the least the officials can learn is how cricket is being organised and marketed, how the past cricketers are taken care of, without letting them die on streets uncared for, and how the team continues to perform, throwing up superstars and icons every now and then.

The plight of most non-cricket sports in general and athletics in particular only shows that there is a lot of catching up to do.

The single most important facility created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India is a giving pension to cricketers who have played for the country.

Eastern Europe has always been a haven for athletes taking drugs, with nations themselves being involved in promoting drug abuse. This was before the World Anti doping Agency (WADA) came into being. And our national coaches are mainly from there. Any surprise that the CWG story has ended first in corruption and then in shame.

Doping is a menace that has come to stay.

Like hacking in computers, the more firewalls and security systems that is put in place, the more hackers will find thrill in breaking into such systems that have all the security. The more drugs are banned, more and more athletes will use them under a masking agent which will cover the main drug used or abused.

Athletics, in future, will become a match between chemists wearing white coats and coming out with drugs and keeping a step ahead of the chemists working for anti doping agencies like WADA or NADA.

It is for the International Olympics Association to make sure the evil of drugs is rooted out of the system once and for all and keep a vigil it never resurfaces.

Otherwise, the Olympic movement through sports is truly over.

Photograph: Commonwealth games organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi congratulates Ashwini Akkunji and members of the gold winning India 4 x 400 women’s relay team at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on day nine of the Delhi 2010 CWG on October 12, 2010 (courtesy Getty images)

Tags: , , , , ,

11 Responses to “About time we stopped cribbing about cricket”

  1. viren k Says:


  2. Ramesh Raghuvanshi Says:

    If Suresh Kalmadi did this kind of cheating in China or U.S.? China government hang him on poster within week.U.S. government send him jail for more than 150 years.Indian government taken time to send him jail year now he is enjoying three start hotel facilities in Thar jail.May be after some time he will out jail.Today Digvijay Sing told media that Kalmadi is innosant give him bail.Long live the Indian democracy.

  3. Despondent Indian Says:

    The worst part is that Ms. Ashwini Akkunji still wants us to believe she is innocent, and everything is being administered by coaches. She accuses of people lining up and conspiring against her..


    Shame on her.. Till now I was happy that though our athletes did not perform well at international competitions, they were by and large above board in terms of doping. But now I can not say even that with confidence..

    Kalmadi, Kanimozhi, Kamal Nath, Ram Dev, 2G Raja, Niira, and now…

  4. twistleton Says:


  5. adu haagene Says:

    @Despondent Indian – I think we should give benefit of doubt to Ashwini (and others) till the time coaches come up with clear explanations!

  6. Arrow Says:

    The bearded “Gentleman” who is shaking hands with the athelete – I wonder, if he ever thought, he would one day, be having tea and biscuit – courtesy the jail staff in between gloating over his achievements as the IOA chief!

  7. Despondent Indian Says:

    @ adu haagene

    By reading reports about NADA raids on SAI BengaLooru, I can only infer that each and every athlete there is aware of what’s happening in their institute. With the types of chemicals that have been obtained, it can be said that our athletes are “on par” with any others in this activity…

    Any way, it is always good to be optimistic… That’s the only thing that keeps everything/everyone running.. Let’s see

  8. Manoj Says:

    I still don’t understand what this article tries to convey

  9. Simple Says:

    Why is Ashwini Akkunji being let off by the media lightly?

    Cricket has succeeded in India, not because it has been marketed well.

    Cricket is a slow game -it does not require much strength or stamina – half the time, more than half the team are in the pavilion. Except the pace bowler and the batsmen, hardly anybody else moves on the field.

    Add to it the fact that only a dozen countries play cricket and you will realise that it is easy to win when you have such less competition.

    If at the world level, imagine only a dozen countries participating in say 100 mts sprint – India would stand a good chance of a medal!

  10. maisuru Says:

    In a country where Azaruddin can become an MP, why are you hounding an young Athlete from a remote Village for a collective systemic failure! Many over the counter drugs used by common cold can land you in trouble. It is the Coach and the system that induces an young athlete. It is like asking why are our people corrupt? It is money, Glory and adulation and the fact that the system was unable to catch them for so long would have made them accept it as Right and Normal ( i.e assuming they were on drugs from the beginning).

    I like the Girls pluck and fighting spirit and hope for her own sake and the State/Country she can prove her detractors wrong.

  11. Faldo Says:

    While the author may have a point, I disapprove of the sanctimonious tone of this post. Like some others, I too feel that the athletes need to be given the benefit of doubt pending a comprehensive inquiry. Our sports persons certainly deserve more support.

    If at all the athletes are guilty of anything it is lack of awareness about testing and of not taking a proactive approach in understanding what supplements were being administered to them. Many sports persons hail from modest backgrounds and are not always well educated. There is a tendency to depend a lot on coaches and blindly follow the instructions of coaches or officials without questioning them.

    Even though the organization of the CWG left much to be desired and the conduct of officials was not above board, the present incident should be treated differently. Dope testing was done during CWG as well according to international regulations and at that time these athletes did not fail the tests. Moreover, there were several cases of other athletes who were stripped of their medals. We should not let the present incident cloud our opinion of the athletes’ performances during those games.

    Thirdly, while the conspiracy theory may sound childish, it should not be totally discounted during the investigations. Jealous teammates and vindictive coaches have always been part and parcel of sport. Lax officials or staff administering these tests could have had a part o play as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: